U.S. Senator Mark Begich today introduced The Social Security Fairness Act of 2013 to repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset, which unfairly reduces Social Security benefits for thousands of Alaskan retirees. The bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Dean Heller (R-NV) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), will ensure that Social Security remains viable and robust for decades.
"Many Americans have been paying into Social Security for their entire careers and it is our job as their representatives to uphold the federal government's end of the deal," said Begich. "There are responsible ways to cut the budget without hurting our seniors. While I agree that we need to make major cuts to reduce the deficit, let's be clear--Social Security is not the problem."
"Civil servants play a critical role in our local, state, and federal governments. It's only right that they receive the retirement benefits they earned. Social Security should not penalize those who dedicate their lives to public service, which is why I am proud to join Senator Begich to advocate for this legislation," said Senator Dean Heller.
"The two provisions were intended to equalize Social Security's treatment of workers. But we are concerned that they unfairly penalize individuals for holding jobs in public service when the time comes for them to retire," said Senator Collins. "The WEP and GPO have enormous financial implications not just for federal employees, but for our teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other public employees. Despite their challenging, difficult, and sometimes dangerous jobs, these invaluable public servants often receive far lower salaries than private sector employees. It is therefore doubly unfair to penalize them when it comes to their Social Security benefits."
The bill will repeal provisions that unfairly penalize workers. The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)and Government Pension Offset (GPO) formulas currently used to calculate Social Security benefits penalize workers, especially many of Alaska's public employees, who contributed to Social Security in past jobs but retire under other "non-covered" government pensions. WEP and GPO were enacted in the 1980s and are still hurting retirees today. In Alaska, 8,000 people are currently penalized by the WEP and more than 2,500 by the GPO. Nationwide, over 2 million people are being adversely affected.
Begich has made numerous proposals to strengthen Social Security since coming to the Senate including introducing the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act that would extend the solvency of Social Security for approximately 75 years by requiring higher-income Americans to pay Social Security on their earnings all year long and adjusting the formula for cost-of-living increases to better reflect the needs of our seniors and persons with disabilities. The bill enjoys support from the Alaska chapter of the AARP.
Begich previewed the legislation with key Anchorage organizations last week at a roundtable discussion.