13 Jul

WEP Reform Receives Major Setback in Committee Hearing, Fight for Equal Treatment Continues

The Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act (H.R. 711) received a major setback in its hearing under the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee today. The bill, which seeks to reform the harmful Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), was scheduled to receive a vote, but was postponed indefinitely due to push back from various public worker organizations.

Rep. Kevin Brady (R – The Woodlands) expressed his disappointment for the bill’s exemption from the committee meeting. He stated that an agreement could not be formed among advocacy organizations, and that this disagreement is the cause of the bill’s postponement.

“We need the community to come together,” said Brady. “We will postpone consideration of H.R. 711 until agreement is found.”

Meanwhile, many retired and active educators will continue to lose hundreds of dollars per month until an agreement is reached. The inaction on H.R. 711 today was a major setback for reforming the WEP, including any real discussion about a full repeal.

Some public worker advocacy groups recently have called for the dismissal of H.R. 711 and support only a full repeal of the WEP. These actions have done a tremendous disservice to public education employees especially, the largest group of public servants impacted by the provision.

Congressman Richard Neal (D –Massachusetts) also expressed his dismay at the bill’s postponement. He pointed to the need for those in various public service communities to come together on this issue.

While we are disappointed at TRTA about today’s postponement, we want our members to know that we are not giving up on H.R. 711!

Now is NOT the time to assume progress on the WEP is lost; in fact, the CLOCK IS TICKING. Congress reconvenes in September and we have no time to waste to get H.R. 711 back on track for a committee vote!

If you are not already a member of TRTA, please join today. Only by working together will we be able to resolve the WEP. If you are already a member, please encourage your fellow retirees to join and renew.

TRTA is ready to get to work on finding agreement with advocacy groups across the country, and will do so tirelessly until our members and public service retirees across the nation receive some financial relief!

Thank You

We would like to thank our members, our national coalition partners and all those who have made phone calls and sent letters on this issue. We will be asking for your help again in the very near future, and we ask for your patience and continued support.

TRTA especially thanks Chairman Brady for his tireless work on the bill, as well as Congressman Neal for his steadfast support and passionate plea for all groups to come together in agreement.

TRTA will continue to provide national leadership and help others come to the table on this critical issue. Please be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to stay up-to-date on all our legislative news.

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12 Jul

Changes Expected as WEP Repeal Progresses

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
$400 $720
$300 $540
$200 $360
$100 $180
National Average $270 $486

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!

Thank You

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.

Please be sure to follow us on FacebookTwitter and YouTube to stay up-to-date on all our legislative news.

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11 Jul

Ways and Means Committee To Vote On WEP Reform Bill

The U.S. House of Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to vote on H.R. 711, a bill that proposes to replace the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) formula. The hearing will take place Wednesday at 1P.M. CT. The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) will be bringing you details as they arrive.

This marks the first time in 30 years that a bill proposing to repeal the existing arbitrary WEP has gone to a vote. Additionally, this marks the first step towards making H.R. 711 into law. The bill first must pass out of committee before it can reach the House floor.

The WEP is an unfair, arbitrary formula that punishes public workers for their years of service. The WEP reduces retirees’ Social Security income, and its archaic, one-size-fits-all formula was instituted in 1983. Many retirees are blind-sided by the reduction.

TRTA has been working closely with Kevin Brady (R – The Woodlands) to repeal the arbitrary WEP and replace it with a newer, fairer formula. H.R. 711 proposes to provide much needed financial relief to current and future retirees.

Now is the time to contact your Congressmen. You can find their contact information here. In particular, Lloyd Doggett, who sits on the Ways and Means Committee, has yet to co-sponsor the bill. His co-sponsorship will go a long way towards passing the bill out of committee. If you are one of his constituents, it is critical that you call his office (202-225-4865).

Thank You

TRTA will be bringing you the latest updates on H.R. 711. Your membership makes our efforts at the U.S. Capitol possible! If you are not yet a member, please sign up today.

Be sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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