Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) led a bipartisan group of colleagues in introducing legislation that would ensure public sector workers and their families can receive full Social Security benefits after two previous statutes reduced them. The Social Security Fairness Act would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) from the Social Security Act. Both of the statutes significantly reduce benefits for nearly 2.3 million Americans.
“Public servants from across the country, such as retired teachers and police officers, have dedicated their professional careers to public service, yet many face reduced retirement benefits due to the Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset,” said Senator Collins. “I held the first Senate oversight hearing on this issue and have continuously worked to correct it. This important, bipartisan bill would eliminate these unfair provisions that have enormous financial implications for many public service employees. It would also give current public sector employees—many of whom are on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis—the peace of mind to know that they will be able to receive their full Social Security benefits when they reach retirement age.”
“These workers have dedicated their careers to serving our communities, and it’s up to us to make sure they can retire with their full Social Security benefits,” said Senator Brown. “This small fix will help Ohio teachers, police officers, and other state and local government employees and their families have the peace of mind that their Social Security benefits will be there for them when they retire from a life of dedicated service.”
The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), enacted in 1983, reduces the Social Security benefits of workers who receive pensions from a federal, state, or local government for employment not covered by Social Security. The Government Pension Offset (GPO), enacted in 1977, reduces Social Security spousal benefits for spouses, widows, and widowers whose spouses receive pensions from a federal, state, or local government. Together, these provisions reduce Social Security benefits for nearly three million Americans – including many teachers and police officers.
The Social Security Fairness Act would repeal both the WEP and GPO statutes, ensuring public sector workers and their families receive their full Social Security benefits.
The bipartisan bill is supported by a number of national organizations, including Social Security Works, AFSCME, National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, National Active and Retired Federal Employee Association, the Strengthen Social Security Coalition, International Union of Police Associations, National Association of Police Organizations, and the Fraternal Order of Police.
In addition to Senators Collins and Brown, the legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Tina Smith (D-MN), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jack Reed (D-RI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Bernie Sanders (D-VT).