Dear Madam Speaker and Representatives Hoyer, McCarthy, and Scalise,
I am writing on behalf of the membership of the Fraternal Order of Police to urge you to discharge H.R. 82, the “Social Security Fairness Act” from the Committee on Ways and Means and bring it to the House floor for a vote.
At this time, the bill has 279 cosponsors, including 92% of Democrats and 37% of Republicans—which is an astonishing amount of bipartisan support and deserving of immediate consideration on the House floor.
The legislation would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO) in current Social Security law, two provisions of the Social Security Act that unfairly reduce or eliminate the Social Security benefits for millions of Americans who have devoted much of their careers to public service.
We believe that this is an issue of fairness. When the WEP was enacted in 1983, its stated purpose was to remove a “windfall” for persons who spent some time in jobs not covered by Social Security and who also worked other jobs where they paid Social Security taxes long enough to qualify for retirement benefits. This provision has created a very real inequity for many public employees, particularly law enforcement officers, who retire earlier than other government employees and often begin second careers which require them to pay into the Social Security system. Law enforcement officers who had second careers face as much as a 60% cut to their Social Security benefits. This is a reduction of a benefit to which they are entitled because they paid into the system–not an adjustment for a “windfall.”
Similarly, the GPO offsets the Social Security benefit to which a surviving spouse is entitled by two-thirds of the monthly amount of any government pension that they might receive. For example, the widow of a retired law enforcement officer who collected a government pension of $1,200 would be ineligible to collect the Social Security survivor’s benefit of $600. Two-thirds of $1,200 is $800, which is greater than the spouse’s benefit of $600; and thus, making her unable to collect it. If the spouse’s benefit was $900, she would collect only $100 because $800 would be “offset” by the government pension. Again, the FOP believes this is a matter of fairness and that the offset scheme currently in place penalizes those employees least able to afford it. Law enforcement officers are especially affected because, like many public employees, a significant number of officers are not part of the Social Security system.
Ultimately, the “Social Security Fairness Act” is about fairness to public employees who served their communities. When these public employees earn a Social Security benefit through other work, they should receive that benefit in full without being penalized because of their public service. A significant bipartisan majority of the House shares this view, and we believe this bill should be considered and passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.
On behalf of the more than 364,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, I urge you to bring this legislation to the floor. If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me or Executive Director Jim Pasco in our Washington, D.C. office.