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Repeal WEP

The WEP is Unfair – and Here’s Why
Americans across the country pay into Social Security and expect to receive the benefits they have earned when they retire. Unfortunately, because of a well-intended but flawed policy known as the Windfall Elimination Provision, or the WEP, some workers — specifically teachers, firefighters, police officers and others who have paid into Social Security for part of their careers but not all of it — are not treated fairly.

As the Bipartisan Policy Center explained:

“Many state and local government workers are not covered by Social Security, meaning that employees and their employers do not contribute payroll taxes on their earnings from those positions. Yet many of these workers also work part of their careers (or work part-time) in covered employment and will still be eligible for Social Security benefits. The WEP was originally designed to prevent these individuals from receiving unintentionally large Social Security benefits, but its methodology is overly complex and does not allocate benefits equitably.”

That’s not fair. Here’s why:

1. The benefits for workers who choose to serve their communities are calculated differently than other workers. The WEP only applies to certain workers who didn’t pay into Social Security for part of their careers. That means many teachers, fire fighters, and police officers could have their benefits reduced by up to 56 percent just for choosing to serve their communities. Here’s an example: A kindergarten teacher who works at a local supply store during the summer will have his Social Security benefits calculated using a different formula than his neighbor who has worked only at the supply store.

2. For some, the WEP is not based on their entire earnings history. The benefits some workers receive upon retirement do not reflect the actual earnings over the course of their career. The WEP tries to fix this but uses an arbitrary formula that is based on a Washington compromise. This arbitrary formula would affect someone who served as a police officer before becoming a private security guard. On the other hand, if he had spent his full career as a private security guard, his benefits w
ould reflect his earnings history.

3. For those who choose to serve their communities, the WEP makes it harder to plan for retirement. The WEP does not show up on a worker’s Social Security statement. Here’s an example: A worker could think she is getting $1,227 a month when she retires, only to find out years later that she will receive nearly $800. For those who planned their retirement based on their Social Security statements, that unexpected reduction could have serious consequences. The whole point of Social Security statements is for workers to be able to plan, but for those subject to the WEP, these statements give wrong information. 

Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) want to hear how the WEP has impacted you as they work on a solution to treat all workers fairly. Share your story with us atWEP.feedback@mail.house.gov.

CLICK HERE to learn how Social Security benefits are calculated and how the WEP applies.
CLICK HERE to share how the WEP has impacted you, or email WEP.feedback@mail.house.gov.


o Ensures that public servants who earn both a Social Security benefit and a pension from a Social Security substitute will finally receive treatment equal to other workers.
o Permanently repeals the current Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and instead uses a fair formula that treats public servants like all other American workers.
o Provides relief to current retirees already affected by the WEP.
o Social Security benefits will increase for teachers, fire fighters, police officers and other public servants currently subject to the WEP.
o Retired public servants currently subject to the WEP – and those who are near retirement – will receive a restoration of benefits payment that offsets a portion of the WEP reduction.

o The Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act guarantees public servants will receive Social Security benefits that reflect their actual work history.
o Social Security benefits will no longer be figured by the arbitrary WEP formula established in 1983. Instead, benefits will be based on each worker’s Social Security contributions – just like everyone else.
o Under the new formula, a worker’s benefit amount will be calculated using total lifetime earnings and then adjusted for the proportion of earnings that came from jobs where the individual paid Social Security taxes.
o The new formula will be phased in to allow individuals time to plan.

In Their Own Words: Retired Teachers, Police Officers, and Other Workers Explain How the Unfair WEP Impacts Their Social Security Benefits
OCTOBER 27, 2016
Today, some workers do not receive the Social Security benefits they have earned when they reach retirement. It’s because of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)—a well-intended but flawed policy that treats some workers, like teachers, firefighters, and police officers, differently than other workers.

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) are working to ensure Social Security treats all workers fairly. Recently, they asked Americans affected by the WEP for feedback. Here’s what people had to say:

“The experience and knowledge about business that I brought to teaching from my career in industry was so valuable but, instead of being rewarded for returning to the classroom, my retirement benefits were reduced for wanting to help students.” — Glenna S., retired teacher

“I continued working as a carpenter for years while working as a police officer, and continued to pay into Social Security. As I near retirement age, I understand that I will not receive my Social Security benefit like every other hard working American. Simply put, I paid a lot of money into Social Security. If I was not going to receive the benefit, then why did I have to pay all that Social Security Tax! This is not fair and needs to be changed.” — Michael S., police officer

“When I was going to turn 62, I applied for Social Security. I figured out my monthly benefit, which would have been about $700.00. However, the Social Security employee at the Ontario, CA Social Security office said that since I had worked in ‘Public Safety,’ the Windfall Elimination Provision would reduce my monthly benefit … I’m grateful to get any benefit at all, but I wish WEP had not cut it so much.” — Stephen S., retired parole agent

“My story is not much different from other men who dedicated themselves to hard work for what they wanted from life, but the Social Security retirement benefits are certainly different. I truly enjoyed my life’s work, but receiving the full amount of Social Security benefits I worked for would help me to enjoy my retirement years. The WEP is unfair.” — Danny B., retired teacher

“The reduced [Social Security] payments hit especially hard when the husband is a firefighter and the wife is a teacher. It’s a double-whammy of unfairness. We’ve both worked multiple jobs during our careers to support our family. Why can’t we benefit from that hard work?” — Martha T., retired teacher

“I worked for the USPS for over 31 years. Prior to working for the Postal Service I worked almost eleven years in the private sector … all together I worked for 42 years. I feel that I am being discriminated against for working my whole adult life … It is grossly unfair that civil servants of every profession will not be able to get the money we paid in to Social Security.” — Roseanne M., retired postal service worker

Brady, Neal Introduce Legislation to Ensure Equal Treatment for Teachers, Firefighters, Police Officers, and Other Public Servants When It Comes to Social Security
SEPTEMBER 28, 2018

Washington, D.C. – This week, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA) introduced H.R. 6933, the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act of 2018. This legislation finally gets rid of Social Security’s Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and replaces it with a new formula that makes sure that teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other public servants receive a Social Security benefit that is based on their actual work history. The legislation reflects ongoing conversations with stakeholders since the introduction of the previous version of the bill in the 114th Congress and is intended to facilitate further discussion and analysis.

Upon introduction of this bill, Chairman Brady and Ranking Member Neal released the following statement:

“Introduced by the two of us, this bill is intended to provide relief from the WEP for affected individuals in Texas, Massachusetts, and the rest of the country. Workers nationwide pay into Social Security with the expectation that they will receive the benefits they’ve earned when they retire. As we have known for some time, WEP, though well intentioned, has treated many of our public servants unfairly. This legislation is part of continued efforts to ensure that public servants who earn both a Social Security benefit and a pension from a Social Security substitute are treated fairly when it comes to Social Security.

“We know there is room for improvement, and we encourage feedback on the bill as work continues to address the WEP. It’s time to stand up for our teachers, firefighters, and police officers in our states and all across the country.”

Stakeholders are encouraged to send feedback to: WEP.feedback@mail.house.gov.

ICYMI – Brady, Cruz op-ed: It’s time to give teachers and other public servants fair retirement pay
OCTOBER 11, 2018
Dallas Morning News

It’s time to give teachers and other public servants fair retirement pay

By House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)

For over three decades, too many Texas teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other public servants have done their vital work while being subjected to a well-intentioned, but unfair, one-size-fits-all approach to calculating their earned Social Security benefits. It’s time for that to change.

Now, through the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act, bipartisan legislation that we introduced together in the House and Senate, these dedicated men and women can be treated fairly as the accomplished individuals they are, receiving Social Security in line with their work history.

The root of today’s problem is a policy called the Windfall Elimination Provision, or WEP, which was put in place in 1983. It may sound like accounting jargon smothered in bureaucracy, but it has unfairly penalized tens of thousands of Texas teachers, police officers, firefighters and other public servants.

Our legislation permanently repeals the current Windfall Elimination Provision, and instead uses a fairer formula that treats public servants like all other American workers.

Some folks, like 95 percent of all Texas public school employees, were not required to pay Social Security payroll taxes under their state or local government jobs because they were paying into an alternative system, such as TRS, but did pay into Social Security through a second job, often in the private sector.

Prior to the WEP, these folks had their Social Security benefits calculated using the same formula as everyone else. However, this sometimes meant that they earned a higher retirement benefit than their work history supported, and consequently gave them a “windfall” of benefits.

The WEP was originally put in place with the intention to prevent this windfall from happening. Instead of creating a fair formula, however, the newly-created WEP forced all public servants who also paid into Social Security into an arbitrary, one-size-fits-all reduction in benefits, with not all public employees being treated equally. Today, the WEP affects over 170,000 Texans.

Additionally, retired public servants often did not know that they would be affected by the WEP until they claimed Social Security benefits, since the reduction did not show up in their Social Security statements.

This is a poor way to compensate the dedicated men and women who are engaging in the important work of teaching our children, protecting our communities and making our cities function well. They deserve better.

The Equal Treatment for Public Servants Act rights this wrong by creating a new formula, one that calculates benefits by taking into account the actual wage and work history of public sector employees.

It calculates worker benefits using each worker’s total lifetime earnings, and then adjusts for the proportion of earnings that came from a job that pays into Social Security. We also ensure that the reforms in our bill will take effect over time, giving folks the ability to prepare for anticipated changes. It also guarantees that public servants receive Social Security benefits that reflect their actual work history.

Additionally, our legislation provides relief to current retirees already affected by the WEP by offering a rebate of $100 per-month for workers, and $50 per-month for those receiving a spousal benefit from Social Security. The amount of the rebate is scheduled to increase along with the rising cost of living.

We are grateful for those who devote their careers to our classrooms and communities in Texas and across the country, and we are proud to support our hard-working teachers, first responders, law enforcement, and all other public servants. These fellow Texans stand up for us every day — the Equal Treatment for Public Servants Act is our chance to stand up for them.