New bill proposes changes to WEP

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.

Christopher Collins

Chris Collins is an assistant government relations officer at the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, advocating for our legislative agenda. Prior to joining the OPERS team, Chris was Ohio legislative director for the Service Employees International Union State Council for seven years.

Christopher Collins

Assistant Government Relations Officer

58 thoughts on “New bill proposes changes to WEP

  • November 29, 2018 at 10:20 am
    Permalink

    I was severely penalized by WEP since I did work under SS for several years. I believe OH is only one of 11 states who have WEP. My monthly SS retirement was reduced by 60% under WEP. I don’t understand why SS distribution became, at some level, an individual state’s decision.

    Reply
    • November 30, 2018 at 12:55 pm
      Permalink

      WEP and GPO are part of the Social Security Act , which is a federal law. States cannot decide whether or not to obey it. The law applies to those who receive a public pension from a job where they didn’t pay into Social Security. Ohio is one of 15 “non-Social Security states” where public employees do not pay into Social Security. We published a blog last year that provided more background on this issue that you may find helpful, https://perspective.opers.org/index.php/2017/04/04/supporting-solutions-to-the-wep-issue/.

      Julie, OPERS

      Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 11:27 am
    Permalink

    My husband worked for the City of Columbus for 30 years. His social security offset is a small insult compared to the larger insult. We checked on the amount of social security he will get if I die first. The answer was that his offset will eliminate all of MY social security benefits to him.

    Reply
    • December 3, 2018 at 10:34 am
      Permalink

      I agree with your complaint! My husband worked under social security for many years before passing. As a life-long underpaid state employee, I was informed that I did make just enough to get NONE of his social security benefit! So, who is benefiting from my husband’s years of service? Certainly not his widow!!!

      Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 12:00 pm
    Permalink

    Congratulations and thank you for continued efforts leading to the reform of WEP. I, as well as many other public servant retirees, would like to see a restored distribution of Social Security benefits that were fairly earned through private sector employment, but never received.

    Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 12:12 pm
    Permalink

    Thank you OPERS for continued efforts regarding the reform of WEP. When I took the job with the State I was not aware of the WEP rules. I was made aware when I applied for Social Security. At the age of 75, I have wondered where all the money that was deducted from my pay checks and also the matching funds from my various employers had gone.
    I started to work at the age of 16 and worked continuously – except for a few months off
    to have my child. That’s 31 years in the public sector and then 16 years with the State.
    I have never regretted any day that I was employed by the State of Ohio, it was a blessing.
    Please continue to keep up your efforts to make this situation right. Hopefully being
    75yoa , I will be able to see the effects of your labors.

    Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 12:13 pm
    Permalink

    If successful, would this apply to social security survivor benefits too? Had I not received a state government pension myself, I would have been entitle to a small approximately $500 per month social security benefit. Thank you in advance….

    Reply
    • November 30, 2018 at 12:52 pm
      Permalink

      No — you’re thinking of the Government Pension Offset, or GPO. If you receive a pension from a government job in which you did not pay Social Security taxes, some or all of your Social Security spouse’s, widow’s, or widower’s benefit may be offset due to receipt of that pension. This offset is referred to the Government Pension Offset or GPO.

      HR 6933 does not address GPO, only WEP (which impacts Social Security benefits based on the member’s own Social Security covered work record). We continue to advocate for GPO and WEP reform.

      Julie, OPERS

      Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 12:23 pm
    Permalink

    I have contributed to Social Security before, during and after my public service that was covered by OPERS. WEP is patently unfair. I applaud the efforts to treat persons contributing to both systems equally.

    Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 12:26 pm
    Permalink

    Curious will this impact those who have retired previously with the government offset impacting their social security?

    Reply
    • November 30, 2018 at 1:36 pm
      Permalink

      Current retirees impacted by WEP would benefit from the $100-per-month payments going forward, scheduled to begin in January 2020 under the proposed legislation. (No retroactive payments.)

      This is all still part of the current ongoing legislative process and subject to change.

      Julie, OPERS

      Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 12:55 pm
    Permalink

    I would love to see this changed. I worked and paid SS and worked all of the quarters required and feel that I deserve some kind of reimbursement that I earned.

    Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 1:00 pm
    Permalink

    Will this be for those of us who have retired already or just future retirees?

    Reply
    • November 30, 2018 at 1:35 pm
      Permalink

      Current retirees impacted by WEP would benefit from the $100-per-month payments going forward, scheduled to begin in January 2020 under the proposed legislation. This is all still part of the current ongoing legislative process and subject to change.

      Julie, OPERS

      Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 1:04 pm
    Permalink

    I truly appreciate the efforts to repeal WEP. Because I worked 20 yrs under SS until the company closed and had to start over for another 25 yrs of work under PERS. I believe I have earned the full amount under both programs.
    Thank you

    Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 1:05 pm
    Permalink

    Looks good to me, get it passed. I was told how much I was to get in Social security, before I retired. They then cut it in half, “after” I took my retirement. Social security said they miss quoted me, “after” I retired. They had all the facts too, that I had worked for the last 24 years of OPERS. Please push for this reform.

    Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 1:11 pm
    Permalink

    It. Is about time changes are made. All of us who worked under social security and as state employees earned both pensions. This discrimination (and that is exactly what it is) needs to stop.!!!!!!!

    Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 1:20 pm
    Permalink

    I feel that it is only fare to those in titled
    Should get what they paid into for years.

    Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 1:32 pm
    Permalink

    What about receiving your spouse’s social security? We currently entitled because of this supposed windfall provision?

    Reply
    • November 30, 2018 at 12:48 pm
      Permalink

      You’re thinking of the Government Pension Offset, or GPO. If you receive a pension from a government job in which you did not pay Social Security taxes, some or all of your Social Security spouse’s, widow’s, or widower’s benefit may be offset due to receipt of that pension. This offset is referred to the Government Pension Offset or GPO. HR 6933 does not address GPO, only WEP (which impacts Social Security benefits based on the member’s own Social Security covered work record). We continue to advocate for the reform of GPO and WEP.

      Julie, OPERS

      Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 2:00 pm
    Permalink

    Thanks for the info. I have always thought this was unfair. Any increase would be gratefully accepted.

    Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 2:30 pm
    Permalink

    Social Security benefits should be based on the amount of Social Security covered earnings, just like someone who never paid or worked in a Public Employment position. Somw of my SS employment includes military service. Thank you for trying to move forward in some way.

    Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 2:38 pm
    Permalink

    I appreciate that Congress is attempting to address the unfair WEP practice that withholds my earned Social Security Benefit. I feel slapped in the face that the new HR 6933 would consider throwing $100 at me to just go away. HR 711 was going to be somewhat proportional. I can only hope that the New Congress will consider the full Social Security Benefits denied to OPERS retirees have been paid for already. This issue has been a poor decision from its inception. Please correct this injustice. I worked very hard as a Registered Nurse whether under OPERS or SS. In return I want the reward for doing so.
    Thank you

    Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 2:38 pm
    Permalink

    Sounds great..A lot of us worked our SS quarters and deserve that money. Thank you

    Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 2:49 pm
    Permalink

    It is long overdue. It is unfair to be punished for working hard.

    Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 2:54 pm
    Permalink

    I appreciate what these two representatives are doing for us. It’s been a long battle so far for these guys! Thanks again.

    I just want to know why Congress penalizes public service employees but not a CEO or other executive that receives a pension? When a CEO makes more in a month (or less) than I do in a year. Am I not understanding something?

    Reply
      • December 4, 2018 at 3:55 pm
        Permalink

        I guess what I’m trying to point out is that I worked over 12 years under social security. I’ve now been under PERS for 22 years. My social security will be cut by WEP. A CEO or any employee that will receive a pension through their company and paid or pay into social security will not have their benefits cut by WEP. This is the way I’m understanding what is going on.

        Reply
        • December 6, 2018 at 7:38 am
          Permalink

          Private pensions are not paid by using tax dollars as is Social Security. As I have posted before Social Security benefits are based on a diminishing percentage which means the higher your income the less of a percentage of that income you receive as a benefit. The intent is to give lower wage earners a higher percentage. The WEP provision takes into account our PERS benefit to give us an overall retirement income that is in balance with the Social Security tables. Even with WEP we are overall better off than being on Social Security alone. It takes a bit of study to understand the WEP, and it did take me awhile to grasp the concept, but it is fair. What would be unfair is to receive a higher percentage of SS income that we did not earn, especially considering the overall picture.

          Reply
          • December 6, 2018 at 12:05 pm
            Permalink

            I understand, to some degree, why WEP was established. I just wonder why only 11states thought it was needed!

          • December 6, 2018 at 4:45 pm
            Permalink

            WEP and GPO are federal laws, not state laws. They apply to those people who receive a public pension from a job where they didn’t pay into Social Security, known as “non-Social Security states.” Ohio is one of 15 non-Social Security states where public employees don’t pay into Social Security. Instead, they pay into a public pension fund, like OPERS.

            We published a blog last year that provided more background on this issue that you may find helpful, https://perspective.opers.org/index.php/2017/04/04/supporting-solutions-to-the-wep-issue/.

            Julie, OPERS

  • November 29, 2018 at 3:09 pm
    Permalink

    My wife is an STRS retiree and will not be able to collect my SS due to the windfall elimination law. Would this legislation address the above issue?

    Reply
    • November 29, 2018 at 4:52 pm
      Permalink

      Not at this time. You’re thinking of the Government Pension Offset, or GPO. If you receive a pension from a government job in which you did not pay Social Security taxes (like OPERS or STRS), some or all of your Social Security spouse’s, widow’s, or widower’s benefit may be offset due to receipt of that pension. This offset is referred to the Government Pension Offset.

      HR 6933 does not address GPO, only WEP (which impacts Social Security benefits based on the member’s own Social Security covered work record). We continue to advocate for GPO and WEP reform.

      Julie, OPERS

      Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 4:13 pm
    Permalink

    What people fail to realize is that Social Security is NOT the property of the Government. This is money that was paid in by the tax payer/worker to provide a supplement to their retirement. This money was and is not intended to be used for any other purpose. The Government has taken money from this account to use as they see fit. They owe everyone who paid into Social Security their full benefit….plus interest! We are all being hoodwinked!

    Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 5:52 pm
    Permalink

    I’m hoping that this $100 per month would be in addition to what little Social Security will be left over after WEP takes most of what I earned….

    Reply
    • November 30, 2018 at 2:08 pm
      Permalink

      Yes — it would be in addition to what you currently receive.

      Julie, OPERS

      Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 6:43 pm
    Permalink

    I retired almost 3 years ago now at age 60 I was told that I would not be able to get Social Security because I didn’t put anything into it doing my 30 years of service with the state. I was told it would be called double dipping to receive Social Security and I will only be able to get Medicare And the $250 upon my death to my children . I hope they make changes to this because it’s hard out here trying to make a living just of my retirement pension .

    Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 6:50 pm
    Permalink

    So, if I’m already getting my 1/3, and it’s more than $100, what will this mean for me?

    Reply
    • November 30, 2018 at 2:01 pm
      Permalink

      As a retiree impacted by WEP, you would receive the additional $100-per-month payments going forward, scheduled to begin in January 2020 under the proposed legislation. It’s part of the current ongoing legislative process and subject to change.

      Julie. OPERS

      Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 7:51 pm
    Permalink

    I hope this bill will pass. I will be appreciative of any amount of reimbursement I would get, but I lost a lot more than $100.00 per month. The WEP should never been put in place.. No one who this affects paid in to SS at a reduced rate.

    Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 8:03 pm
    Permalink

    They need to do away with the WEP, I worked under SS many years before PERS, paid the same amount of taxes in that everyone else did and yet I’m penalized 2/3 because I later worked under PERS, very unfair, and I am not in A high income bracket. Keep pushing for us, I appreciate it!

    Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 8:06 pm
    Permalink

    What is not fair is the fact that I worked in two systems, paid into two systems then I am only allowed to collect from one. Then give me back what I paid into the other system!!!!

    Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 10:29 pm
    Permalink

    This is still so unfair. I would receive only $100.00 a month additional from Social Security and not the full amount that I earned and should receive even though I worked the forty quarters as required.

    Reply
  • November 29, 2018 at 11:14 pm
    Permalink

    Not understanding why it is settled at $100.00 when we have lost so much more?

    Reply
  • November 30, 2018 at 9:32 am
    Permalink

    I hope they can reduce or eliminate the WEP as a Retied PERS reciepiant, and a currently working in the private sector person, why are we pentilized when it only takes 40 Quarters to qualify for SS?? As State retiree, if I have 40 quarters of SS I should get what anyone with 40 quarters gets whether or not they work for PERS!

    Reply
  • November 30, 2018 at 10:16 am
    Permalink

    My biggest problem with the WEP legislation is the fact that if you work 30 years under SS , then WEP does not affect you. That is okay, but, if you worked just shy of that before going into public service or during your working years, you only get a percentage of your SS benefits. In my case I worked approx 27 years in the private sector and only get half of my SS benefit. Quite a hit when you’re only 3 years short of receiving the full benefit. I feel if the WEP cannot be fully eliminated, then if 30 years is the deciding factor, the calculation for what you receive from SS should be be prorated on the 30 year breaking point. In my case I would get 27/30s or approximately 90% of my social security. That type of calculation would be much more fair. This WEP law is especially hard on workers who went into public service later in their working careers and especially difficult when wages in both SS and OPERS wages were not that high. It is definitely a discouragement for people to go into public service later in life. Could, or is, something like this suggestion in the proposed changes?

    Reply
    • November 30, 2018 at 1:08 pm
      Permalink

      Thank you for the suggestion, Mary.

      Julie, OPERS

      Reply
  • November 30, 2018 at 2:53 pm
    Permalink

    Hopefully this will pass. How will they know who was affected by the WEP? Thru social security records or will we have to apply? Thanks for your continued efforts on our behalf.

    Reply
  • November 30, 2018 at 4:17 pm
    Permalink

    WEP should never have been implemented. It is wrong. As a public service worker I paid into my retirement (PERS) with contributions from my employer. No where ever was the state or federal government involved. It is beyond my comprehension that the Federal government can withhold any of my social security benefits which I paid into. That would be the same as reducing someones social security benefits because they have a IRA/Keough plan. You are penalizing people for working, for saving, for having foresight. Just another reason for term limits and reducing the governments influence on the working persons every day life.

    Reply
  • November 30, 2018 at 10:42 pm
    Permalink

    I agree with both Allan and Mary as I also have had this experience. I worked from age 16 and both saved the maximum for retirement and paid into Social Security with the hope that I would have this income in retirement. I worked in private industry for 18 years and for the state for 27 years. I receive a small amount from Social Security and have been disappointed for years that I am unable to receive what I contributed for my future. Working for the government should be an honor and we should not be penalized for our service.

    Reply
  • December 1, 2018 at 4:41 pm
    Permalink

    Folks, keep in mind that this legislation does not do away with the WEP. It changes the calculation that determines the amount of reduction. Some older retirees will get a few dollars more, later higher paid retirees with higher pensions will get actually less – at least the way I understand the legislation as a cost neutral plan. The major change in this bill from the last is the $100 stipend added.

    I certainly agree that those of us who have paid our dues in the SS system should get whatever the amount that anyone retiring in the private sector would receive.

    Reply
    • December 3, 2018 at 4:07 pm
      Permalink

      You are correct. The bill repeals the WEP, but replaces it with a new formula that is similar in principle.

      Julie, OPERS

      Reply
  • December 1, 2018 at 6:24 pm
    Permalink

    I hope little or no OPERs financial resources are being spent on this cause. Be concerned with the pension plan you are responsible for, let those eligible for Social Security to fend for themselves.

    Reply
  • December 2, 2018 at 7:25 pm
    Permalink

    Everyone needs to understand the purpose of the wep provision and how it was implemented. It’s designed to give you the benefit percentage you should receive. If you had no other source of income besides social security and your income was low, you would receive the higher percentage. Looking at your social security taxable income and your pers income results in the adjustment to give you the percentage you actually earned. My social security was reduced by a third and it was fair.

    Reply
  • December 2, 2018 at 10:15 pm
    Permalink

    I paid into social security as well as my two deceased husbands. I also had 30 plus years in PERS. because of that I lose 2/3 of my widows benefit. This is not fair. I should be able to draw one full benefit from s.s. Regardless of what my pension is. Where does all that was paid in by three of us go?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

dialog-information.png
We encourage your comments on the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System’s PERSpective blog. We can’t respond to every comment. Please be aware that we review all comments before they’re posted, and we reserve the right to edit, not publish or remove any comment that in our sole discretion does not further the purpose of the blog. For further details, please see our Comments Policy.
 

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *