Rep. Arrington Files HR 5342 Proposing WEP Reform

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) is leading the charge with its national partners to reform and end the unfair Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).

On Tuesday, September 5, Congressman Jodey Arrington (R-TX) filed HR 5342 (the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act) to address the WEP, an unfair federal provision which prevents retirees from receiving the Social Security benefits they have earned and are owed. Read Representative Arrington’s press release here. Watch Arrington’s press conference here.

“Our teachers, firefighters, and police officers shouldn’t have their Social Security checks docked each month on account of an incomplete and outdated formula from the 1980s that shortchanges our seniors,” said Rep. Arrington. “Every month Congress fails to fix this inequity, retirees and their dependents lose precious resources they need and have earned.”

The WEP took effect in 1983 as a means of eliminating the “windfall” of Social Security benefits received by beneficiaries who also receive a pension based on work not covered by Social Security. Ninety-five percent of Texas public school employees do not pay into Social Security through their work with Texas schools. However, many have other jobs before, during, or after their employment in education in which they do pay into the federal program.

Rep. Arrington held a press conference to discuss HR 5342 on Thursday, September 7 at 4 p.m. Central at Lubbock Fire Station 19. Several TRTA members spoke at the event. We are grateful to them for representing public education retirees across the state. The speakers were TRTA State Secretary/Treasurer Terri Navrkal, TRTA District 17 President and Terry County RTA President Judy Kennedy, and Lubbock South Plains RTA Legislative Chair Ann Hilgers.

TRTA believes the WEP, along with the Government Pension Offset (GPO), is unfair and needs to be repealed. Over the years, TRTA has worked on multiple approaches to eliminate or modify these onerous provisions. Congressman Arrington supports TRTA’s efforts and has introduced a new bill to replace the unfair and arbitrary WEP formula with a new proportional formula that puts public servants and other American workers on equal footing.

We appreciate Congressman Arrington, who serves on the U.S. House and Ways Committee, for picking up where retired Congressman Kevin Brady left off. Arrington is committed to carrying forward this proposal to reform the WEP. His bill is a positive step in this direction and TRTA looks forward to working with him and the committee to make progress on the WEP during this Congress. TRTA leaders and staff are working with Arrington and other congressional members right now to advance WEP reform. TRTA is working with its national coalition, which includes the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE), to enact positive change for retirees impacted by the WEP.

Arrington’s bill, if passed, will ensure that teachers, firefighters, and police officers will receive a Social Security benefit that reflects their actual work history, providing them with critical financial relief. Arrington’s bill differs from Brady’s final WEP bill (HR 5834) in that it proposes giving everyone aged 18 and above the better of the two formulas. Brady’s bill proposed a qualifying age of 21. This change in the bill language allows for greater flexibility and allows more public servants, including future educators, to be grandfathered into the new formula.

TRTA is calling on our entire Texas Congressional delegation to support HR 5342. If the entire state is united in its support for HR 5342, it will send a strong message to the Ways and Means Committee that we can all work together to fix this issue.

TRTA will be ramping up membership activity around the WEP and GPO as it finalizes its campaign to win on Prop 9, the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) referendum in November.

The people hurt by WEP are tired of losing thousands of dollars every year to this unfair provision, and future retirees will face the same fate if we don’t solve this problem. Only with a strong and united group will we be able to fix WEP today and continue to put pressure on Congress to also fix the GPO.

Thank you for being a member of TRTA. We are asking members to please renew their dues with TRTA if they have not done so already. If you know someone who is not a member, please invite them to join us! There is strength in numbers and the surest way for us to accomplish success is to grow the organization.

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