As you may have read last week, the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) has been visiting Washington D.C. throughout the summer to work for the passage of HR 711, the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act.
Texas Congressman Kevin Brady (R – The Woodlands) introduced the bill to Congress in an effort to provide financial relief to current and future retirees who fall under the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). While HR 711 is not a full repeal of the WEP, it will provide significant financial relief for millions of current and future retirees.
The WEP was first instituted in 1983, and since its inception, TRTA has fought vigorously for its repeal. HR 711 is a bill that has a real chance of going into effect, as it is a bi-partisan bill created by the chairman of the House of Ways and Means Committee, Brady.
TRTA has been working closely with a national coalition of education advocacy groups to pass HR 711 and help as many retirees as possible. During TRTA’s visit to D.C. last week, several changes were made to the bill to improve its chances of passage.
We Need Your Help Today!
This week, the newly modified HR 711 will receive a hearing at the House Ways and Means Committee hearing. We need your help encouraging all Ways and Means members to support the bill. If you are a constituent of Representative Lloyd Doggett, we ask that you call his office today and tomorrow morning to ask for his support. You may reach Congressman Doggett at 202.225.4865.
Changes to HR 711 Explained
The most significant change to HR 711 is how and when current retirees can expect to receive financial relief. If you are a retiree subject to the current WEP formula and you already receive some Social Security income as of December 31, 2017, you will remain under the current WEP formula and receive a 15 percent rebate on your reduction by the end of 2018. This rebate also applies to retirees who are 62 by December 31, 2017 with uncovered service who do not yet receive monthly benefits.
Monthly benefits from Social Security for these retirees will not change. The 15 percent rebate will be disbursed annually, beginning in 2018. The average annual rebate is expected to be approximately $480, but will depend upon your current WEP reduction amount. Please refer to the chart below for examples. To determine your projected annual rebate, you must first determine by how much the WEP is reducing your Social Security benefit. Your rebate amount will not be determined by your monthly Social Security income, but by how much it is reduced.
|Current Monthly Reduction Amount (WEP)||Projected Annual Rebate Amount|
It is also possible that the rebate will increase over time, to as much as 50 percent of the WEP amount, as the implementation of HR 711 is reviewed by the Social Security Administration.
For future retirees, those who will be age 62 or older as of January 1, 2018, the new Equal Treatment formula will apply. Instead of receiving an annual rebate, those retirees will have their monthly Social Security benefits adjusted using the new, fairer formula. Future retirees who would have been subject to the WEP will be as well off or somewhat better off than current retirees with the passage of HR 711.
In order to provide relief to as many retirees as possible and to prevent harm to retirees who have uncovered service but are not currently subject to the WEP, the amount of the rebate has been reduced from the original projections. TRTA and its partners worked closely with the bill sponsor, Representative Brady, to ensure that current retirees were not suddenly burdened with proving why their non-covered service should not be subject to WEP.
The removal of this enforcement provision from the bill prevents millions of retirees from being harmed by the bill’s passage. This compromise is important to TRTA and its partners, as it removes barriers to passing HR 711 and provides a clearer path for 1.5 million current retirees to receive financial relief in their lifetimes.
Only because of TRTA and its national partners continuing to exert pressure to pass HR 711 will millions of hard-working retirees receive more of their earned Social Security benefits! TRTA and its partners are proud to say that for the first time in 30 years, there will finally be a committee vote on eliminating the arbitrary WEP formula!
TRTA members are making a difference both locally and nationally. TRTA will continue to fight for the rights of its public education retirees on Social Security issues like the WEP.