PERI Board Announces Position on WEP-GPO Bills in Congress

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PERI Board Announces Position on WEP-GPO Bills in Congress

(December 2, 2019)  At its most recent board meeting on November 26th, the PERI Board of Trustees voted to support Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO) repeal legislation currently in Congress.

Specifically, HR 141 introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Rodney Davis (IL) and a companion bill in the U.S. Senate, S 521, sponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH), call for a full repeal of these restrictions passed by Congress more than 35 years ago.

PERI has sent letters to members of Ohio’s Congressional delegation who have yet to co-sponsor or lend their support for these bills.

Specifically, there are many OPERS’ retirees who at some point in their work life, may have worked in the private sector long enough to be eligible for a Social Security benefit in addition to their OPERS retirement benefits earned through public sector employment.

In the 1980’s, Congress passed the WEP provision to offset a perceived financial “windfall” public sector retirees would enjoy since they could potentially have benefits coming from two separate retirement plans.  The legislation severely limits the amount of Social Security benefit a person in such a situation can earn despite the fact they and their private sector employer may have paid an amount similar to a Social Security retiree without a public pension.  This disparity is unfair since the Social Security benefit was earned, as was their public pension benefit.

PERI believes “WEP”, as well as the Government Pension Offset “GPO”, which penalizes the amount of Social Security benefit a spouse, widow or widower can receive by two-thirds of the amount of the primary spouse’s government pension, are patently unfair and require repeal.

Nine of Ohio’s House members currently support repeal and have co-sponsored HR 141.  Those who have yet to do so include Rep’s. Chabot, Wenstrup, Davidson, Jordan, Johnson, Gonzalez and Latta.  Senator Rob Portman has not co-sponsored S 521.

All of these members of Ohio’s Congressional delegation have received our letter requesting action on their part to both co-sponsor legislation and contribute their efforts to support passage this session.

6 Comments

  1. William Hamilton says:

    Dear PERI Leadership ,
    In reading the December Board Minutes it does mention efforts to amend the “Windfall Provisions Act” which absolutely needs to be amended. However , I noticed the Board will be discussing cut backs to the HRA fund. Appears this is driven by data provided to OPERS by the fund management company, which reflects the average amounts saved by retirees in their individual accounts. Unfortunately OPERS appears to look at the balance accumulations in such a negative light they it now provides a new initiative to cut back even more to an anticipated retirement benefit program. If I understand the Board’s recent publication, the new formula initially discussed would result in retirees being forced to either pay more out of pocket for their insurance premium or select a more economical but risky, higher copay /deductible program as the HRA fund support is reduced over time. OPERS is aware, as all of us know, that insurance costs will continue to increase. So why the rush to reduce retiree’s monthly HRA funds. Frankly retirees who have managed their fund wisely and accumulated a few thousand dollars should be recognized for doing what was expected when OPERS changed the a public managed program to individual private management. I doubt any of the individual account accumulated amounts will last long after just one significant health care event which is not covered under their selected insurance program. It appears OPERS is looking once again at data to support further changes which , in the long run, will have negative impact to our retiree’s. I would ask either for clarification if I interpreted the Board’s publication wrong or advise me and our PERI membership of PERI’s position on this . As a long term PERI member I am concerned. Thank You , William H. Hamilton

    • Barbara Swain says:

      These Bill’s need to passed and now. I am 66 years of age and should be retiring this year but won’t as I have worked half of my life under social security and now find out I will have what I have earned taken away because I worked my later years under OPERS. Just where does the money I earned and won’t get go?

  2. Dave says:

    Thank you for addressing and helping us eliminate the WEP/GPO. This is a major major issue for my family.

    Federal workers are not bound by these restrictions. Maybe, it wouldn’t be an issue for us either, if the Federal Government workers were affected as we are! I would suspect if they were, there would be strikes, and class action law suites. But, then again, OPERS has to to be fiscally sound!

    Anyway, pleeeease, help us get rid of WEP/GPO – only, if the pork in the bill is not partisan. Thank you all hardworking OPERS and OPERI people.

    • Shirley says:

      My son has been a federal employee for over 20 years. They work under private-sector social security and the federal government doesn’t provide any other type of pension plan. It is up to the employee to provide for their own retirement beyond their social security benefit.

      I agree that the WEP/GPO is fundamentally extremely flawed. I worked under social security for 24 years, then for OPERS for 25 years. Therefore, my social security benefits are reduced to less than 40% of what they should be because I went to work for a government. And Ohio is one of only 6 states that implement this.

      THANK YOU PERI for all your hard work on this issue!

  3. Lee Adams says:

    Please stop wasting time and resources on trying to change the Social Security WEP provision. Yes it needs to be changed but it will never happen with the looming financial crisis with Social Security and as long as the conservatives can control at least one branch of Congress. It certainly won’t happen as long as the current occupant of the White House continues to occupy.
    PLEASE, direct your energies and resources to stopping the COLA changes being proposed by OPERS. PERI did a disservice by acquiescing to OPERS on its proposed changes so early on.

  4. David Smith says:

    LET ME DO THE MATH! I retired in December, 2012 with 25 years of service. I did that because of the passage of S.B. No 343, which fixed the COLA at 3% each year to those who retired before January 7, 2013. The last 5 years make a big difference in ones retirement benefits. Having 30 years and not 25 years of service, one maximizes the most in how much one will receive through OPERS. Having 25 years of service one receives a substantial reduction in their total retirement benefits. The other reduction is that one does not receive a 100% from their Health Reimbursement Account, but 75%. This is the difference of about $113 per month or $1,356 per year. And, in two years the HRA will be calculated not on $450 per month, but $350 per month. This will result in an additional reduction of $75 per month. So, by adding the $113+$75, my total reduction on my HRA account alone will be $188.00 per month or $2,256 per year. This means I will be paying more for the same Health Care out of my pocket. I personally was basing my decision on the provisions of the fixed COLA at 3% each year to compensate for the reduced OPERS benefits. So, if I consider the reduction in my OPERS retirement benefits, the reduction in the HRA and the increase cost of Health Care, I am wondering if I made the right decision retiring with 25 years, instead 30 years, based on S.B. No 343. If I remember right, OPERS made their decision at that time on S.B. No 343 based on their studies and projections. Lastly, I too suffer from the Social Security windfall elimination provisions (WEP). WEP is when Social Security reduces the amount one receives from Social Security for having worked in a State Retirement System that does not pay into Social Security. I appreciate PERI being the watch dog for the retirees of Ohio and supportive of repealing the WEP. Thank You.

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