Pay & Benefits

Feds could get a better Social Security calculation under new legislation

Retired federal employees that worked both in positions not covered by Social Security and covered by the program would get their Social Security payments boosted under legislation introduced in the House April 2.

The Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act of 2021, introduced by Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., would give current retirees and those turning 62 before 2023 an extra $150 a month in Social Security checks to correct for reductions to those checks mandated by the Windfall Elimination Provision.

That provision was initially intended to equalize earnings for employees that received other retirement benefits from non-Social Security covered jobs, but ultimately resulted in millions of former public servants and their beneficiaries receiving less per month than other comparable retirees.

The same legislation was introduced by Neal in 2019, but never made it past committee consideration.

“The Public Servants Protection and Fairness Act garnered more support in Congress last year than any previous WEP reform bill. This year, I look forward to building on that momentum to advance the bill even further, and we’re off to a running start with 139 original cosponsors,” said Neal.

“The WEP negatively affects nearly 2 million retired public servants across the country, including 83,000 in Massachusetts. Public employees like firefighters, teachers, and police officers should not miss out on the Social Security benefits they earned over decades of hard work. With this legislation, these valued members of our communities will have greater retirement security and peace of mind.”

Nine months after the enactment of the bill, current retirees would receive the $150 per month addition, though that amount cannot exceed the size of each person’s current WEP reduction.

Future retirees who would be 62 and younger by 2023 would have their Social Security benefits calculated under a new Public Servant Protection formula, which calculates benefit amounts based on the proportion of lifetime earnings covered by Social Security.

If such employees would, in rare cases, receive more money under the current WEP provisions, their checks will instead default to that amount, to ensure that no one receives less money as a result of the legislation.

“The Windfall Elimination Provision has unfairly penalized public servants through reduced Social Security benefits for far too long. Nearly 2 million individuals see their earned Social Security benefits reduced simply because they also held a public-sector job during which they did not pay into Social Security. This bill would provide at least some much-needed relief from the penalty for those currently affected, and it will improve fairness for future retirees,” said National Active and Retired Federal Employees National President Ken Thomas in a statement.

“NARFE continues to support full repeal of the WEP, as the status quo has harmed too many hardworking and dedicated public servants for too many years. While this bill does not provide WEP-affected individuals the full repeal they are due, it represents a good first step in allowing some relief from this unreasonable penalty”

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