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Reps. Berman, McKeon Introduce Social Security Fairness Act

Location: Washington, DC

Reps. Berman, McKeon Introduce Social Security Fairness Act

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Reps. Howard Berman (D-CA) and Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-CA) today introduced the Social Security Fairness Act, legislation that would completely repeal the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).

"Thousands of dedicated firefighters, police officers, teachers, and other public servants are deprived of a portion of their Social Security benefits each year as a result of the onerous Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision," said Rep. McKeon. "These two provisions must be completely repealed so that our nation's most dedicated public servants can receive, in full, the Social Security benefits that they have rightfully earned throughout the course of their careers. I look forward to once again working with my good friend and colleague, Rep. Berman, in the 109th Congress to pass this legislation and secure meaningful reform to America's Social Security system."

"These two provisions make it hard to attract mid-career professionals to fill critical teacher shortages in math and science," noted Rep. Berman, "because they can lose most of the Social Security benefits they've accrued in other jobs. We can help our school districts recruit valuable teachers if we can eliminate the GOP and the WEP. I very much appreciate Rep. McKeon's hard work on this bill to benefit our teachers, fire fighters, police officers and other affected public servants."

Under current law, the GPO reduces Social Security spousal benefits if he/she has another government pension based on work that was not covered by Social Security. The GPO takes two-thirds of the government pension and subtracts that from the spousal benefit. If two-thirds of a person's government pension exceeds his/her spousal benefit, that person does not receive the spousal benefit. Many public employees did not prepare for a smaller Social Security benefit when they planned for retirement.

The windfall benefit provision that is currently in place reduces Social Security benefits for workers who also have pension benefits from employment not covered by social security, such as state pensions.

Although these provisions are only applicable to some 13 states, they affect people in many of America's most populated states such as Massachusetts, Texas, Illinois, New York, and California.

Representatives Berman and McKeon coauthored similar legislation in the 107th and 108th Congresses, each time receiving a groundswell of bi-partisan support. By the end of the last Congress, the bill had 300 cosponsors. And although the new bill is just now being introduced, it has over 100 cosponsors.

In an effort to give the legislation the greatest opportunity for consideration, they hope to incorporate their bill into a larger legislative package of Social Security reform.

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