Opinion / Politics / Press Releases

AMAC Backs Reform of the Social Security WEP Clause that Penalizes Private Sector Workers

WEPWASHINGTON, DC, July 24 — AMAC Action is calling for reform of the Windfall Elimination Provision [WEP].  “It does a disservice to public service employees who paid into the Social Security fund when they took up a second private sector career or who needed to take a second job by shortchanging them when they retire,” says Bob Carlstrom, president of the advocacy affiliate of the 2.1 million-member Association of Mature American Citizens {AMAC].

Carlstrom and AMAC are putting their support behind legislation the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act to remedy what he calls “the unfair” impact that WEP has on those who chose public service as a primary career.

“WEP reduces Social Security benefits for a worker who receives a public pension.  This is problematic for public service employees that work another job on the side, or for individuals who want to transition into a public service profession such as teaching.  Both would receive reduced benefits even though they have already contributed money into the system.  Educators, police officers, and firefighters should not be in the position for weaker benefits after they have already contributed to the Social Security fund for many years.”

According the AMAC Foundation’s Social Security advisor, Russell Gloor, “It’s not unusual for individuals who work in the private sector to transition into second, public sector careers.  It is also commonplace for those working in the public sector to make ends meet by moonlighting in second, private-sector jobs.  Either way they wind up making contributions into the Social Security pool.  But many of them wind up having their Social Security benefits severely reduced because of the WEP clause.  Current estimates are that nearly two million American workers are impacted by the Windfall Elimination Provision and it can have a particularly onerous bearing on police officers, firefighters and teachers.“

The Bipartisan Policy Center has also thrown its support behind WEP reform.  As that influential think tank put it: “Many state and local government workers are not covered by Social Security, meaning that employees and their employers do not contribute payroll taxes on their earnings from those positions. Yet many of these workers also work part of their careers (or work part-time) in covered employment and will still be eligible for Social Security benefits. The WEP was originally designed to prevent these individuals from receiving unintentionally large Social Security benefits, but its methodology is overly complex and does not allocate benefits equitably.”

AMAC’s Gloor says it is understandable that workers who transitioned from a private sector job to public sector, Social Security-covered employment view WEP as unfair.  “Even with 20 years of earnings from which Social Security taxes have been paid, their benefit can be reduced by as much as half simply because they had another career during which they didn’t contribute to Social Security.  Similarly, civil servants who moonlighted at a second job during their careers in order to get by and paid into the Social Security fund can get shortchanged.  Nevertheless, WEP still applies today, amid the cries of unfairness by nearly two million affected Americans.  Though several bills have, in recent years, been introduced to either repeal or reform the WEP provision, none have made it past being “referred to committee” in Congress.   According to those who are most hurt by WEP, it’s time for Congress to stop penalizing our nation’s public servants and enact WEP reform.”

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Kim
1 month ago

Social Security is such a complicated issue, and I have no familiarity with public sector employment. However, as sole proprietor of a small business for a few decades, I do know that I paid twice the SS taxes (as both employer and employee) that employed individuals paid, although my SS deposits have not doubled. So, maybe SS needs to look closely at this dilemma as well.
Eliminating fraud and abuse could increase payouts for all recipients, or lower taxes taken in the first place.

Preacherman
1 month ago

My wife worked in private sector for 18-20 years then went to work for a hospital system (cival service) for 18 years, left that job working in private sector again, her social security amount is a joke! Democrats can find a way to give money away for illegals but wont take care of American tax payers. Hope she can benifit if and when changes are made.

Trg
1 month ago

I’m affected by WEP so I support this.

Meredith
1 month ago

While I can’t work due to chronic illness, my husband has worked very hard all his life and if he were to retire now we might get around $3,000 per month SS. With our IRAs, we could just barely survive in California, unless we get a lot of inflation, so my husband will continue to work. But I know a couple who worked as public school teachers and also as administrators (teaching liberalism) and they have well over $100,000 a year in retirement income. And they still whine that even though they worked a little in the private sector they… Read more »

Jeff
1 month ago

Public sector employees should all be required to contribute to Social Security. Any other pension saving should be through a 401k plan from their salary. No taxpayer money should be used to give these public sector employees any extra money in retirement.

Della Latham
1 month ago

I fell into that group when I retired 11 years ago. They said they were only giving me 50 percent of what I was entitled to. The worker told me that I should be happy about it, that it was going to those that hadn’t worked. I’m a pretty charitable person, but I wasn’t happy about it at all.

John S.
1 month ago

Twenty-two years ago, I moved to Nevada to begin a teaching career after paying into SS for over 17 years. I found out that the WEP reduces SS benefits for Nevada residents by 66%. Years ago, I wrote then-Senator Dean Heller’s (R) office to ask why I should get punished when I paid into the SS system in another state. The tone of the reply from his office felt like I was being scolded as it stated that SS is not a retirement system but a safety net for those less fortunate. Needless to say, I’m encouraged by reading about… Read more »

Jake Slater
1 month ago

Having trouble understanding this. Maybe it’s a regional thing. Because of unions, those we know who worked in the public sector have pensions, and benefits in retirement that far exceed anything we earned at the peak of employment in the private sector. Since a work accident left one of us disabled and dying, really wouldn’t mind their pension and medical benefits, instead we’re struggling on social security and Medicare/ Medicaid.

Robert Messmer
1 month ago

Quote: “Many state and local government workers are not covered by Social Security, meaning that employees and their employers do not contribute payroll taxes on their earnings from those positions.” Simple solution. Make them all subject to social security. The military is already and Congress was moved into it in 1984 so there is no reason not to do so. Should also eliminate tax on Social Security benefits since the FICA tax is based on pre-tax income.

Daniel J. Roeder
1 month ago

My wife worked in the private sector for 15 years. Our third child was born with a right frontal lobe brain disorder and so for the next several years she worked as an at home parent. As our son developed she began to work part time then 15 years ago she went to work for the Amarillo ISD for the Front Office in one of the High Schools as the Attendance Clerk. She turned 65 this February and has High Blood Pressure, and Diabetes. When my wife visited with her principal to see if there were some options for her… Read more »

Glynda Cooper
1 month ago

Thank you for being an advocate in this area –a voice for us who cannot speak on this behalf. And not allowed to draw from spousal social security benefits after passing.

James Turpin
1 month ago

I retired in 1998 MWD Southern CA. I worked there for 11 years under CalPers public servant. Started in 1965 in private sector union until 1987. Upon retirement SS debucted 40% from my SS after paying in for 27 years. I’m glad someone is finally looking into this RIP off. I still pay for Medicare out of my SS + taxes again RIP off. Thank you!

REBECCA G
1 month ago

I worked in public service for 39 years. The first 25 years I paid into SSA. After that our union opted us out of paying into SSA.AA When I retired I was penalized and my SSA benefits reduced due to WEP. So, what can we, the public, do -other than pleading to our congress folk & senators -to move this along since its been brought up and laid to rest so many times.?

DBM
1 month ago

Don’t public service workers, like congressmen and senators, get large retirement packages that dwarf social security? I thought that was one of the motivating factors in the WEP clause.

Sharon
1 month ago

If one pays into Social Security, that person’s benefit should be appropriate to what they contributed. In IL the state is going broke due to government employees getting pension amounts that far exceed their contributions.

Marlene F Nickerson
1 month ago

I RETIRED ON DEC 31, 2012. I WORKED 38 1/2 YEARS CIVIL SERVICE. THE FIRST 13 YEARS I WAS UNDER THE OLD RETIREMENT SYSTEM AND PAID INTO THAT. IN 1987 THEY CHANGED THE RETIREMENT SYSTEM TO FERS (SOCIAL SECURITY). I WAS PAYING INTO BOTH THE OLD RETIREMENT SYSTEM AND FERS(SS) FOR THE NEXT 25 1/2 YEARS. PLUS THE FACT THAT I ALSO HAD PART-TIME JOBS IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR AND PAID SS DUES THRU THEM. WHEN I RETIRED THE GOVERNMENT CHARGED ME A PENALTY OF OVER A THOUSAND DOLLARS A MONTH, THAT THEY TOOK FROM MY CIVIL SERVICE RETIREMENT, DUE… Read more »

Sue
1 month ago

It’s truly sad to of watched my husband work his whole life. Paid into social security. Now to only receive half payment in return. The first year of his retirement diagnosed with dementia. The full payment sure would help with his care. Plus he earned it !!!!!!

Nicholas Ponzio
1 month ago

I agree that the WEP provision should be repealed or reformed. At the same time you should be pushing to eliminate taxing social security and eliminating the IRMA rule. For those of you not familiar with IRMA, you can look it up.

Sam
1 month ago

I retired from the FAA after 26 years. Before the civil service I worked in high school, college, 6 years in the USN, then spent about a year each working for AT&T and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Then after the FAA spent a while with Lockheed Martin. I didn’t accrue a GREAT deal towards SS but By God I paid into it! Now, as a retired fed I get right at half of what I should get. Strange how this stuff happens to us common trash out here in America, ‘playing the game’, working and paying taxes, while the… Read more »

Roger Van Alyne
1 month ago

I served in the military for a quarter century – 5 years active duty and another 20 in the National Guard. I worked in government during those 20 years, so my Social Security will be impacted. It’s not just the fire fighters, law enforcement officers, and teachers who served and are impacted. I STRONGLY support WEP reform!

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