(March 23, 2020) Several PERI members have asked us to provide a deeper explanation to the WEP issue we addressed in our call to action earlier this afternoon. Many retirees worked in the private sector and paid into Social Security before, during or after their public service careers. In some cases, these retirees qualified for both a public pension through OPERS and Social Security benefits. Tax law was changed in the 1980’s that penalized these dual pension recipients by dramatically reducing their Social Security benefits despite the fact they paid into the system just as others did who did not have their benefits reduced. This disparity is unfair. We are trying to bring some fairness for retirees who in most cases are living on fixed incomes and should be treated equally with others who qualify for full Social Security benefits. That said, retirees should not be left out of the discussion when benefits are provided through the emergency legislation under consideration today by Congress.
It is important to understand that while we are strong proponents for WEP & GPO legislation, the political dynamic and timing during this economic crisis limits our action. This initiative provides the best opportunity to gain some financial relief for retirees through the emergency phase three legislation. PERI remains committed to seeking permanent WEP and GPO reforms on behalf of PERI members impacted by these laws. We hope this clarification is helpful.