Today, the Texas House Select Committee on State and Federal Power and Responsibility met to discuss several bills, including HCR 101, a resolution that would urge Congress to repeal the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) of the Social Security Act.
Members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) know about these two unfair federal provisions, and that TRTA has been fighting for repeal or modification of them for more than three decades.
The resolution, filed by Representative Abel Herrero (D – Robstown), is one that has been filed during every Texas legislative session by Herrero over the past 12 years. If passed, it is sent to the President of the United States, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States Congress, as well as to all the members of the Texas congressional delegation with the request that this resolution be officially entered in the congressional record.
Tim Lee meets with Rep. Abel Herrero.
TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee testified in favor of the resolution, reminding the members of the committee that these unfair provisions take away earned benefits, either spousal (GPO) or one’s own earnings (WEP). Texas educators are often caught off guard by these federal provisions, which financially punish educators during retirement. GPO often eliminates a spousal or survivor benefit completely, while the WEP eliminates up to two-thirds of a retiree’s Social Security earnings.
While TRTA is supportive of HCR 101, we also know that Congress has shown little movement to repeal the GPO and the WEP over the past three decades. TRTA supports the more other measures to repeal the current WEP formula proposed by Congressman Kevin Brady. As you may have read in a recent Inside Line update, Congressman Brady affirmed to TRTA that his top personal priority as a legislator is to pass WEP reform.
While Brady, who heads the Congressional House Ways and Means Committee, is focused on major policy issues such as tax reform and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) right now, we can expect to see a new bill addressing the WEP this congressional cycle. During the last congressional cycle, Brady filed H.R. 711, the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act, which proposed to provide a rebate to retirees who fall under the WEP, as well as reforming the unfair formula for future retirees.
H.R. 711 received considerable support, including more than 100 Congressional cosponsors. However, stakeholder groups could not come to a final agreement on the bill’s changes to the WEP. The bill was delayed in committee, with a promise from Brady to continue moving forward with even better resolutions. When Brady re-files this legislation later this year, the bill will have a new number.
Congressman Brady also vowed to continue working closely with all stakeholders, including TRTA, to make the legislation work for everyone. The Government Pension Offset (GPO) may also be a part of this conversation. According to the congressman, it is possible that the GPO could be addressed in any upcoming legislation reforming the WEP as well.
What You Can Do Now to Support Repeal of the WEP and GPO
While there is not yet a bill number for reforming or repealing the WEP and GPO, members can still call their congressmen today and express their support for Congressman Brady’s efforts to change these unfair provisions. Let them know you want to see these unfair provisions reformed and you would like their support when Congressman Brady’s bill is filed later this year.
Call your U.S. Senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, using the phone numbers listed below:
John Cornyn: 202.224.2934 Ted Cruz: 202.224.5922
Thank you for your membership to TRTA. We are fighting ardently for your benefits every day at the Capitol. If you are not yet a TRTA member, please join here. Be sure to read our comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions about TRS-Care here.