NARFE Opposes Changes to WEP Reform Bill in Advance of Committee Consideration.
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
||Contact: Jessica Klement
|July 13, 2016
Alexandria, VA – The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) expressed its concerns with an amended version of H.R. 711, the Equal Treatment for Public Servants Act of 2015, which is scheduled for consideration today by the House Committee on Ways and Means. The substitute bill makes substantial changes that provide little benefit for those currently feeling the impact of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). Because of these changes, NARFE, which was a strong supporter of the original bill and worked tirelessly to secure cosponsors, has withdrawn its support in advance of today’s markup. NARFE President Richard G. Thissen issued the following statement:
“NARFE supported H.R. 711 in its original form, as it would help mitigate the effects of WEP by providing some relief for both current beneficiaries, through a reduced WEP penalty, and for future Social Security recipients, by improving the formula going forward. It wasn’t full repeal, but it was progress.
“However, we are strongly opposed to the last-minute changes in the bill and mystified as to why they are being made. The newest version of H.R. 711 limits the relief afforded to current beneficiaries until 2026. The original bill would have provided current WEP-affected individuals with a rebate of 50 percent of the WEP penalty; the substitute reduces that amount to a mere 14 percent, for an average of $40 month, through 2026. That’s better than nothing, but it’s a big step backward that NARFE cannot support.
“The WEP serves as a reminder that our nation continues to undervalue public service and should be repealed outright. In lieu of repeal, NARFE supported efforts to reform the WEP, but strongly opposes reform efforts that would limit the relief provided to current beneficiaries. We fear H.R. 711 threatens to do this, and NARFE no longer can support the bill in its modified form. We urge members of the House Ways and Means Committee to forgo this change and instead consider the original bill.”
By way of background, the WEP unfairly deprives dedicated public servants of the full Social Security benefits earned through the contributions they paid into the system. They are denied these benefits solely because they also worked outside of Social Security-covered employment in government service. The WEP penalty often comes as a rude awakening, as the actual benefits received fail to meet the expectations created by the estimates provided by Social Security. All told, it has cost public servants hundreds of millions of dollars of Social Security benefits that they rightfully earned.
As of December 2014, the WEP affected 1,623,795 beneficiaries, including 1,506,792 retired workers, 16,613 disabled workers, and 100,390 spouses and children. In 2015, affected individuals can lose up to $413 per month in Social Security benefits from the WEP (almost $5,000 per year). In addition to Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) federal annuitants, the WEP affects thousands of state and municipal retirees, including teachers and police, whose work is not covered by Social Security.
NARFE President Thissen’s letter to the House Committee on Ways & Means is available here.
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The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE), one of America’s oldest and largest associations, was founded in 1921 with the mission of protecting the earned rights and benefits of America’s active and retired federal workers. The largest federal employee/retiree organization, NARFE represents the retirement interests of nearly five million current and future federal annuitants, spouses and survivors.