Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Government Pension Offsets and Windfall Elimination

Although my wife has been in teaching for many years now, we only learned of the "Windfall Elimination Provision" a couple of weeks ago. It is essentially a ridiculous law that unfairly penalizes teachers, firefighters, and other public employees by not allowing them the same Social Security survivor's rights as any other American.

This law is close to being repealed with bi-partisan support, but Congress needs a little push to get them to finish the job. The following is the text of a letter that I have sent to each of my representatives in Washington, DC:
I have worked hard all my life, and have tried to be responsible about planning for retirement. Part of that planning for myself and my wife included the Social Security benefits that I have earned.

Had my wife spent her career in the private sector, she would be entitled to my Social Security Survivor's Benefit upon my death along with her own retirement savings. But, my wife is a teacher, and her retirement is in the form of PERS, a public pension. Or, rather, a publicly managed pension, but one into which she has paid through payroll deductions from her earnings. PERS is not an "entitlement", it is a part of her wages.

Current law considers that the Social Security that I have earned would be an unfair "windfall" to her. In the event of my death, she would have only her PERS - not enough to live on.

Public employees like educators, police officers, and firefighters should not suffer a penalty for dedicating their lives to public services. They have earned their pension, and should not be denied the same survivor rights and benefits as any other American.

The Social Security Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision take away some retired public employees' benefits that they - or their spouses - have earned, often forcing them into poverty.

At a time of national teacher shortage, the GPO and WEP discourage talented people from entering the teaching profession.

Please support legislation (H.R. 147/S. 619) to repeal the Social Security Government Pension Offset/Windfall Elimination Provision.
For more information, and to take action yourself, see the NEA web site. Thanks for your help.

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