Monday, March 21, 2016

I Am Trying to Translate the Proposed HR 711

The GPO is a completely separate statute and should not be used to hijack this current proposed legislation. The GPO passed years before--five years before--the WEP. I think it is much more problematic than WEP and potentially a lot more expensive to change. From what I can make out with HR711, once I can get past all of the poorly written legalese, it DOES repeal WEP in terms of new people going into the SS system starting next year. Their SS will be based solely on their SS earnings--there is NO "offset" or theft of benefits based on some notion that because you have a state pension that doesn't pay into SS, you have a "huge" pension and don't need SS. It will be calculated the same as everybody else who is eligible for SS benefits. What they will get if the law passes should be similar to what their SS statements say they will get. Those currently affected will get a partial "rebate" of the offset. WEP was written decades ago, when many people in both public and private sector worked for a single employer for decades. It hasn't been true for years in private sector employment, and it is increasingly not true in public.

I was initially skeptical of this legislation, but given how many public sector organizations are backing this and how closely they have worked with Congress with this for the past two years, it appears it will help people as long as it makes clear that this doesn't change matters for people with 30 years in SS or people not vested in a public pension (NEA's concerns). From what I can tell from the bill, those issues are addressed implicitly but not explicitly; in other words, those people won't be affected.

NEA, in its website, still makes the assumption that WEP affects mostly teachers, and that is not true--it affects all public sector employees in the states and local governments that don't pay into Social Security. It also assumes that WEP affects teachers when they moonlight in part time jobs or summer jobs, when that is totally nonsense. Most are not going to get the forty quarters required to qualify for SS from doing scattershot jobs. It affects teachers who go into the field in mid-career, just as it affects other public employees like police and fire personnel who often retire early and go into private sector work.

The hearings should not even cover GPO because it is a separate regulation. I think to include it in the legislation would lessen the chances this proposal passes Congress. We are lucky Congress will even HEAR this proposal.

According to AARP, this is what the bill does in a nutshell:

For workers who retire after January 1, 2017, at age 62 or older, all of their Social
Security earnings will be counted without any reduction, which will result in an
average benefit increase of $200 a month;

For workers who already have retired, the SSA will re-calculate benefits, and
according to SSA, benefits may increase an average of about $100 a month;

SSA will begin data matching Social Security and state and local pension
databases to ensure accurate benefit calculations, beginning in 2017.


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