Members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) legislative team visited Washington, D.C. this week, and spoke with Texas congressional leadership about the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). Executive Director Tim Lee, State President Fran Plemmons, Legislative Coordinator Bill Barnes and Retirement Consultant Ronnie Jung attended the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) Sixth Annual Policy Conference to learn more about the state of retirement security of all Americans.
Texas Congressman Kevin Brady (R – Woodlands) discussed the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act of 2015, H.R. 711 with the TRTA legislative team. Brady filed the bill in early February after the new 114th Congress convened. The bill, formerly H.R. 5697, 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 December 2014, TRTA members and staff attended a press conference held by Brady in the Houston area. See video footage from that event here.
While in D.C., TRTA representatives visited the offices of all Texas congressional members to advocate for support of the bill. TRTA provided information to our Texas Congressional delegation about the negative impact the WEP has had on Texas public education retirees. You may download the HR 711 flyer here.
H.R. 711, 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 lifetime Social 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.
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. 711 passed! The legislation has an effective date beginning January 2017, and while that may seem like a long time away, passing a bill in Congress is no easy task. We will need to move urgently to pass HR 711.
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 working to pass a bill that puts money back into your pockets!
Please be sure to stay tuned into the Inside Line throughout the 84th Legislative Session, as we will be bringing you all the latest updates on our broad legislative agenda, including any bills concerning TRS-Care, the continued funding of the TRS pension trust fund, pension increases for all TRS retirees, and also congressional issues such as the WEP and GPO.
Thank you for your membership in the Texas Retired Teachers Association (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.