Legislation pending in U.S. House would provide monthly payments
By Christopher Collins, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System
Nov. 29, 2018 – U.S. Reps. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Richard Neal (D-Mass.) recently have introduced the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act of 2018 (HR 6933) in an effort to restart the debate and public discussion regarding reform of the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision.
Under the current WEP law, retirees who are eligible to receive a pension from OPERS (or other public retirement systems), as well as Social Security, for working a portion of their career in the private sector often see their Social Security benefit reduced.
The previous version of this legislation – the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act of 2015 (HR 711) – sought to repeal the existing WEP reduction formula and replace it with a new proportional Social Security benefit formula based on an individual’s entire earnings history, regardless of whether their employment was covered by Social Security or not.
Although HR 6933 retains the proportional formula idea from HR 711, the proposal would establish a new form of relief for individuals who WEP currently impacts. Whereas HR 711 offered individuals a variable percentage decrease in their WEP offset based on savings generated by the bill, HR 6933 instead provides a $100 per-month-payment to those who WEP has impacted, regardless of the amount of their offset.
The legislation also specifies that the payment would increase with Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustments. If passed, the $100-per-month payments would begin in January 2020.
It’s unclear whether there is a path forward for HR 6933 in the current Congress. With less than two months remaining in the session, passage would require considerable concessions from various interested parties. OPERS is working directly with Congressional staff in an effort to shape the development of the legislation.
Rest assured, we will continue to advocate for the best possible solution – for all OPERS members.
We are grateful that Rep. Brady and Rep. Neal have continued to work on an equitable resolution to this issue, and that they understand the devastating impact the WEP has had on retired public employees across the nation. HR 6933 presents an innovative, if incomplete, way to address a problem that has vexed our members for decades, and if its funding questions can be resolved, it may be our best chance yet to reform the WEP and return more of the Social Security benefits our members have earned.