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Social Security Offsets February 2004

 

Respect Public Service: Repeal Social Security Offsets

Update on the National Education Association's
Campaign to Eliminate the Government Pension Offset
And Windfall Elimination Provision

February 2004

 


IN CONGRESS:

GPO-WEP Full Repeal

As the 108th Congress begins its second session, momentum continues to build for repeal of the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision. As of the beginning of February, the House version of the Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 594) has 284 bipartisan cosponsors (Note: this number reflects the retirement of Rep. Combest (R-TX), who left Congress last year).

The latest additions are:

Bill Young (R-FL)
Kendrick Meek (D-FL)
John Lewis (D-GA)
Mark Kirk (R-IL)
Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD)
Anthony Weiner (D-NY)
Chaka Fattah (D-PA)
John Peterson (R-PA)
Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)

Is your Member of Congress a cosponsor of the Social Security Fairness Act? Check the NEA website at http://www.nea.org/lac/socsec to find out. You can e-mail your Senators and Representatives directly from the site and urge them to support full repeal of the GPO and WEP.

Clay Shaw Holds Hearing on Social Security

Representative Clay Shaw, Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, Subcommittee on Social Security, held a hearing in his district on January 26 on the future of Social Security. Chairman Shaw has thus far refused to move the GPO/WEP repeal legislation through his committee.

NEA activists attended the Shaw hearing hoping to raise questions about the offsets. However, Chairman Shaw did not permit questions, advising attendees to submit questions and comments in writing. Comments and questions will be accepted through February 9. To submit comments, send an e-mail to hearingclerks.waysandmeans@mail.house.gov, along with a fax copy to (202) 225-2610, by the close of business, Monday, February 9, 2004. Comments must be in Word Perfect or MS Word format and MUST NOT exceed a total of 10 pages including attachments. Be sure to include your name, address, and telephone number.

NEA ACTIVISTS AT WORK:

GPO/WEP CADRE

Our GPO/WEP cadre members continue to spread the word about repeal of the GPO and WEP. Cadre members staffed information tables and shared updates on their activities at NEA's Midwest, Western, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast regional leadership meetings. Similar activities are planned for the Southeast and Pacific regional meetings later this month.

SUCCESS STORY

As a result of the hard work of NEA members and leaders in Alaska, the Alaska House adopted a Resolution calling on the federal government to repeal immediately the Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision. Advocates are working on securing Senate passage as well. The text of House Joint Resolution 30 is appended to this newsletter.

Have a success story to share in future newsletters? E-mail Carrie Lewis at clewis@nea.org

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

  • Call or e-mail your Member of Congress. Thank Members who are already cosponsors and ask them to urge their leaders in Congress to make this legislation a priority. Urge Members who are not cosponsors to add their names to the bills. You can e-mail Members of Congress from NEA's website at www.nea.org/lac. Just select "Social Security." The website provides sample message points for e-mails, but we encourage adding personal stories for greater impact.

  • Talk to the media. A sample letter to the editor is available on NEA's website at www.nea.org/lac/socsec/editorltr.html.

  • Spread the word. Fact sheets, talking points, and other materials are available on NEA's website at www.nea.org/lac/socsec. Use this information to educate colleagues, friends, and family about the offsets.

  • Share your information. Send stories about your local efforts on this issue to Carrie Lewis at clewis@nea.org.



ALASKA HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 30


BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA:

WHEREAS the retirement systems established by the state for public employees are independent of the federal social security system; and

WHEREAS Alaska's teachers and most public employees do not participate in the federal social security system while performing public service; and

WHEREAS the Social Security Act includes two offsets, the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision, that reduce the social security benefits payable to persons earned in the private sector or from other public retirement systems under certain conditions; and

WHEREAS educators and many other public employees in Alaska who earn a pension from working for a government agency incur substantial reductions in their earned social security benefits as surviving spouses through their spouses' social security eligibility under the Government Pension Offset or from employment for which they paid into social security from the Windfall Elimination Provision; and

WHEREAS the Social Security Act offsets discourage individuals with private sector or military service from seeking teaching and other public employment positions in Alaska; and

WHEREAS the recruitment of teachers from other states who have earned social security benefits from other jobs is also undermined by these federal offsets; and

WHEREAS teachers have left Alaska upon learning about these offsets in order to avoid losing social security benefits; and

WHEREAS the Alaska economy is also harmed by these social security offsets due to millions of dollars in lost benefits; and

WHEREAS legislation to remedy the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision has been introduced in the 108th United States Congress by a bipartisan group of legislators and cosponsored by a large number of other legislators;

BE IT RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature requests the Alaska Congressional delegation to sign on as cosponsors to current federal legislation and support the repeal of the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision.

COPIES of this resolution shall be sent to the Honorable George W. Bush, President of the United States; the Honorable Tommy Thompson, United States Secretary of Health and Human Services; the Honorable Rod Paige, United States Secretary of Education; the Honorable Ted Stevens and the Honorable Lisa Murkowski, U.S. Senators, and the Honorable Don Young, U.S. Representative, members of the Alaska delegation in Congress.



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