Politicians Fight to Stop Public Workers’ Retirement Benefit Cuts
There are indications that the legislature is considering some changes to Social Security policies that currently seem to negatively impact retirement incomes for public workers such as teachers, firefighters and police officers. Our Orange County retirement attorneys are watching these developments carefully, as many of our clients will be impacted. The purpose of this article is to explain how the current laws impact your retirement, and what the proposed changes would mean to you.
Understanding the Windfall Elimination Provision
Theoretically, the Windfall Elimination Provision rule was supposed to ensure fair treatment for all because the Social Security payout amount was calculated on what was paid in to the system, along with any retirement income the worker might receive. The Windfall Elimination Provision, or WEP, was enacted in 1983, along with other Social Security reforms. Essentially, the WEP affected workers who were eligible for Social Security and/or retirement benefits but who also worked for employers who didn’t withhold Social Security taxes from the paychecks. These workers, many of whom were teachers, firefighters, police officers and other public workers, received reduced benefits.
The WEP does contain some exceptions –workers who have logged more than 30 years of earnings under Social Security are exempt, and those collecting survivors’ benefits.
Changing the Windfall Elimination Provision
Among the legislators spearheading the call for change is Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, the lead Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee. Brady seeks to change the formula that would increase benefits to public workers who work in jobs that are not covered by Social Security.
In a recent hearing, Brady stated that Social Security reform should begin by making sure that teachers, firefighters and police receive the Social Security benefits that they have earned.
How the Windfall Elimination Provision Impacts Public Employees
The WEP and the possible reduction in benefits can often come as a surprise to workers. For instance, in the context of their teaching positions, many teachers do not pay into Social Security. However, a large number of teachers earn supplemental income outside of the classroom, and that places them under the WEP, reducing their benefits.
Brady’s bill seeks to replace the WEP, and put into place a new way of calculating benefits that would essentially give public workers more money. It also allows workers between the ages of 21 to 59 to select either the prior rules or the new formula. The new formula would automatically apply to anyone who is currently age 20 and younger.
Rebates of $100 per month would be available for a worker who is currently 60 and over and subject to the WEP. Spouses and children would receive rebates of $50 per month. Additionally, cost-of-living increases would apply to the rebates.
Proponents admit that the bill would be costly, and that the legislature may be hesitant to address the issue on that basis. However, they believe that the money would be well spent in supporting our public workers.
A similar bill has been introduced by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., and presidential hopeful Joe Biden has addressed the need for Social Security reform in his political platform, specifically how it relates to public service employees.
Disability Retirement Attorneys Orange County
Our Disability Retirement attorneys fight for the benefits of our valued public employees every day. We support the changes to WEP and will keep our clients updated on the important changes to this law. We welcome your questions and are available to sit down with you to review your unique situation and how these laws may impact you.
The disability lawyers at Cantrell Green are among the few attorneys who understand and specialize in disability retirement benefits. If you live in Orange county, are unsure if qualify for disability retirement benefits, or are having trouble collecting the benefits for which you qualify, call our experienced attorneys today. We would be happy to help you determine your eligibility for disability retirement under your current retirement system.
Consultation with Orange County Disability Retirement Attorney: 562-622-4800
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