The Texas House Pensions, Investments, and Financial Services Committee (PIFS) met Wednesday, April 28, 2021 and discussed Senate resolution SCR 17 by Senator Bryan Hughes (R, Mineola). The bill was laid out to the PIFS Committee by Representative Abel Herrero (D, Robstown) a long-time champion for repealing the GPO and the WEP.
SCR 17 urges Congress to repeal the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) of the Social Security Act.
As members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) know, these two federal provisions reduce or even eliminate earned Social Security benefits for Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) retirees using arbitrary, antiquated formulas.
TRTA has been working to repeal or modify both provisions for years, and is presently working with Representative Richard Neal (D, Massachusetts) on HR 2337. HR 2337, if passed, would ensure Social Security fairness for future public employee retirees and provide current retirees impacted by the WEP a rebate of $150 per month for life.
With the recent announcement that U.S. Representative Kevin Brady (R, Texas) will not be running for reelection, passing legislation that would give retirees back more of their earned income is vital and urgent! Brady has worked with Rep. Neal throughout the years on the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee to author similar legislation. An attempt to pass legislation out of the Ways and Means Committee failed in 2019 when stakeholders could not agree on bill language.
TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee testified in favor of SCR 17 during the PIFS hearing.
When asked about the origin of WEP and GPO by PIFS Chair Rafael Anchia (D, Dallas), Lee stated that these were introduced 40 years ago when Congress did not have a better way to calculate SS benefits for public workers who did not pay into the program through their regular jobs.
“What’s occurring now amounts to nothing more than theft of Social Security benefits,” said Lee, referring to the fact that despite several bills being introduced in Congress with broad bipartisan support throughout the years, legislation still has not passed to address these issues.
TRTA believes Congress knows there is a better way to treat all workers individually and has come up with a fairer calculation that would not arbitrarily penalize teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other public sector employees.
SCR 17 was left pending in the Committee, but TRTA believes the measure has tremendous support in both the PIFS Committee and the Texas House. We will work the issue and keep our members informed on the SCR and the work we are doing on Capitol Hill to fix these two unfair and unjust Social Security penalties.
The PIFS Committee also voted SB 288 (a return-to-work bill that is identical to HB 2109) favorably out of committee today. Both of these bills will be sent to the House Calendars Committee, awaiting a date to be voted on by the entire House of Representatives.
The TRTA membership drive is underway for the coming 2021-22 membership year. No other group focuses solely on your TRS retirement security! Please join us today!
Thank you for being a member of TRTA and supporting issues that affect retired Texas public school personnel. Be sure to download the TRTA app to receive all of the latest updates and communicate with your fellow retirees.