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20 Nov
0

Federal Legislation to Repeal Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) Introduced

Last week, two members of Congress, Representative Kevin Brady of Texas and Representative Richard Neal of Massachusetts, introduced H.R. 5697, the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act. The bill, if passed, would repeal the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), and replace it with a more fair formula helping those who have been impacted by the WEP and those who will be in the future.

In a press release dated November 13, Representative Brady stated, “Our goal for many years has been to end the unfair WEP and provide equal treatment to all workers in Social Security, including our teachers, firefighters, police and other public servants who have contributed into Social Security.”

Members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) have advocated for many years that Congress repeal the WEP, and TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee was invited last summer to Washington, D.C. by Congressman Brady to discuss the bill and share his thoughts about how it impacts hundreds of thousands of retired public educators in Texas and throughout the nation.

H.R. 5697, if passed, would:

  • Permanently repeal the current Windfall Elimination Provision and replace it with a new and fair formula that treats public servants like the rest of American workers.
  • Guarantee public servants receive the benefits they earned while they paid into Social Security.
  • Reduce the WEP by up to a third for current retirees, and up to half for future retirees – increasing lifetimeSocial Security benefits by between $20,000 and $32,400 (as estimated by the Social Security actuary).
  • Not impact the Social Security trust fund.

What does this mean for retired educators in Texas? If H.R. 5697 passes, your Social Security amount will no longer be figured by the arbitrary WEP formula established in 1983, but will be based on your real-life Social Security contributions and work history — just like everyone else.

An estimate provided by the Social Security Actuary’s office indicates the average retiree would receive an annual $1,034 increase in Social Security income, or an additional $20,000 over the lifetime of an average retiree for those who are retired already or will turn age 62 before December 31, 2016. Retiree’s Social Security income would increase by approximately 32 percent.

Persons who turn age 62 after January 1, 2017, would be subject to the new Public Servant Fairness Formula. On average, retirees would receive $1,620 in additional Social Security benefits per year, about $32,400 over the average lifetime of retirement.

What Happens Now?

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means, a committee on which Representative Brady serves. After review by the Committee, the bill would need to be brought to the House of Representatives for a vote, then if passed, would need to be presented to the Senate for a vote as well. If the bill passed both Houses of Congress, it would then be sent to the President to be signed and become law.

We are still in the very early stages of the bill’s progress. While the news is good, there is much work to be done to get H.R. 5697 passed! TRTA will launch an email advocacy campaign on this issue with our Texas Congressional Delegation in the weeks to come.

For now, TRTA members can spread the word to their fellow retirees and their friends in the active school community that we have not given up on the idea of fairness for our members and their Social Security earnings. We are gearing up to pass a bill that puts more money back into your pockets!

WEP Repeal Fact Sheet

Thank You!

Thank you for being a member of TRTA. If you are not a member of TRTA and want more information about joining, please contact us at 1.800.880.1650. Follow us on Facebook! Visit our YouTube channel for regular video updates.

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19 Nov
0

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12 Nov
0

Legislative Action Takes Center Stage

Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) members are already hard at work preparing for legislative session. Reports from all over the state are arriving in our office about TRTA members organizing and meeting with legislators before the start of the legislative session.

As I have said to many of the TRTA members and active educators I have met with over the last few months, NOW is the time to get your legislator’s attention while they are still at home and are able to meet with their constituents.

Think of legislative session as the fourth quarter and time is running out. The start of legislative session should not be the start of our legislative outreach, now is the best time to score points.

Lobbyists and special interests will bombard legislators from the first day of session to the last. Believe me, legislators are FAR MORE INTERESTED IN MEETING WITH YOU IN THEIR HOME DISTRICT THAN THE LOBBYISTS IN AUSTIN!

The power in our membership is vast; let’s organize and use it in the last few weeks before session. Meeting with your legislators will ensure they come to Austin prepared to work on solving the TRS-Care crisis.

We need their help. We need our health care program funded. We need to know legislators are protecting our defined benefit plans.

We want to help you increase your voice. TRTA is already in the final stages of producing the fourth quarter issue of The Voice news bulletin. We are preparing a special section for you to take action. It includes vital facts about the TRS-Care program, and also provides a section for you to write a message to your legislators.

We will gather hand-deliver these personal messages to every legislator in Austin!! If our members are willing to use that special section, it will create a tidal wave of letters sending a powerful message to legislators as they start the 84th Legislative Session.

TRTA is ready to work every minute of every hour of every day of every month of this legislative session for you!

Help us make the most of the coming opportunities by preparing your fellow TRTA members and your legislators for the days of work, opportunity and victory on our vital legislative agenda.

TRTA and TRTF Celebrate 10 Years at the Trinity Office Center

November 12 marks the 10-year anniversary of the Trinity Office Center’s grand opening! The Trinity Office Center, which serves as the home of the TRTA’s state office, has been a valuable, lasting reminder of TRTA’s incredible leadership and membership.

In November 1987, TRTA President Enid Littlefield assigned 14 individuals to establish the Texas Retired Teachers Building Fund Trust. The trust was officially established in January 1988, and raised $750,000 through annual “Walks to the Wall.”

The trust’s fundraising responsibilities were transferred to the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF) in 2000. The ribbon cutting ceremony in 2004 for the grand opening of the Trinity Office Center celebrated 16 years of hard work and fundraising on the parts of TRTA and TRTF.

The Trinity Office Center stands approximately 200 feet east of the Texas State Capitol and is fully tenanted, with medical offices filling the entire third floor. It serves as an access point into the state Legislature, as well as a training ground for TRTA members to fight for retirement benefits.

The month of November is TRTF’s Foundation Month. Now is the time to continue the tradition of giving. Without donations, TRTF would have never been able to purchase the property on which the Trinity Office Center now stands. Similarly, without continued donations, TRTF will not be able to provide programs such as “A Helping Hand” or Classroom Assistance Grants.

If you would like to know more about making special donations to the TRTF or if you are in need of help from one of our Foundation programs, please contact our office and we will be happy to help.

You may donate online here, or over the phone by calling 1.800.880.1650 (ask for Dawn or Shala).

Your donations go towards supporting educators of the past, present and future!

Please watch and share the following video, wherein the significance of the Trinity building is recounted.

All Foundation videos can also be found here.

If you are not a member of TRTA and want more information about joining, please contact us at 1.800.880.1650Follow us on Facebook! Visit our YouTube channel for regular video updates.

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