In an open letter to MassRetirees (the Retired State, County and Municipal Employees Association of Massachusetts), Congressman Richard Neal (D-MA), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, announced his intention to file a “revised” bill in the summer of 2019 aimed at reforming the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).
Like all public employees in Massachusetts, MTRS members do not pay into Social Security, and, therefore, are subject to this provision. In addition to Massachusetts, there are 26 states that have public retirees and employees who could be subject to the WEP.
Before 1983, government workers whose primary jobs were not covered by Social Security, and who qualified for Social Security through other employment, had their Social Security benefits calculated as if they were long-term, low-wage earners. Because the Social Security benefit formula pays a greater percentage of earnings to low-wage earners, these government employees, who also received a full government pension, were perceived to have an unintended “windfall” in their Social Security benefit. In 1983, Congress passed the WEP to remove that perceived advantage and reduce benefits for the affected government workers.
Since its passage, however, the WEP has received much derision for what is seen by many as an unfair penalty on public sector workers who qualify for Social Security benefits from other employment.
Prior efforts at WEP reform have seen some bi-partisan support in past legislative sessions, but as of yet, no proposals have made it out of committee. As with any piece of legislation, the new bill would need to be passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by the President. The MTRS has supported prior reform efforts and we look forward to reviewing Congressman Neal’s revised bill.