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For Immediate Release

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

AFSCME Calls For Social Security Fairness For Public Retirees

Country’s largest public sector union backs legislation to eliminate unfair pension offsets

WASHINGTON — 

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO, today called for the repeal of unfair federal pension provisions that reduce Social Security benefits for thousands of retired public employees.

At a Capitol Hill news conference, AFSCME joined with Reps. Howard Berman (D-CA), Buck McKeon (R-CA) and Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) as they introduced legislation to repeal both the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision of the Social Security Act.

The Government Pension Offset (GPO) applies to nearly everyone receiving a public pension from work not covered by Social Security—approximately 25 percent of state and local government employees. Under the GPO, if the public pensioner is eligible for a spouse or widow’s Social Security benefit, the law requires that the benefits be offset by an amount equal to two-thirds of a retiree’s public pension.

The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) is another law that applies to individuals who receive a pension from a public service job not covered by Social Security. If the public pensioner also worked in a Social Security-covered job for at least 10 years, the WEP creates a public pension offset that can greatly reduce that person’s earned Social Security benefits.  

“These are average folks who paid thousands of dollars into Social Security over 15, 20, even 30 years, yet they cannot receive the full benefits they’re entitled to simply because they’re also receiving a public pension,” AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee said. “Congress should repeal these provisions to restore fairness to these retirees and their survivors.”