Repeal the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) - Support the Social Security Fairness Act

It’s not a heath problem, it’s a political phenomena.

My social security is $x ; my husband’s would be $y. Which is more than twice mine. So a spousal benefit would add that extra bit to mine to maje it half of his. As his widow, i receive mine plus the amount he had eatned to equal his amount.

My best friend is a retired teacher with a pension less than my social security amount, and some social security from other jobs that she is waiting to hopefully collect something from after she turns 70. I doubt she will get much. Her late husband would have had a decent social security pension, but since it isn’t more than 2/3rd her teacher pension, she is not eligible to collect any of it, either as a spouse or as a survivor. A spouse who had never worked would be eligible for half of it, or all of it as a survivor.

Since she didn’t pay into social security as a teacher, her teacher pension functions as social security. She knew this going in. If she’s waiting until 70 to collect, she’s probably not hurting for money.

That varies by state, in some states you do, in others you don’t.

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True. But in the case where a person is subject to the WEP, they didn’t pay Social Security.

WEP is penalizing those who DID in fact pay into social security in other jobs during their lifetemes but those same individuals also worked in teaching or public jobs where they earned a pension unrelated to the social security system.
Consequently, their contributions to the social security system are unfairly diminished under circumstances where they were hard working Americans contributing to a system where they hoped to eventually have a fair return on their social security investment but are instead denied.

H.R.82 - Social Security Fairness Act of 2023.
The Act eliminates the financial penalties to teachers and public service professionals.

Contact information for members of the House:
House of Representatives

Contact information for members of the Senate:
Senate

No. Everyone’s contributions are diminished the more they work and earn. That’s the way the system is designed.

Social Security should never have been or should be looked at as an investment. It was never the intention.

And even if was, you’d have to compare it to something with equivalent benefits. Your 401k doesn’t pay based on you becoming disabled. It doesn’t pay survivor benefits. It doesn’t pay a death benefit (and yes, I know this SS benefit is very small). Social Security just isn’t comparable to your 401k or any other investment vehicle.

Thank you billnin. I should have used the word “contribution” instead of “investment”. Their contributions are being unfairly denied.

Thank you ratbert2k.
Please educate me.
I am interested in examples, if you can provide some, where:

  1. Someone works and earns a teachers of public service pension falling under the WEP rules (where they did not contribute to social security).
  2. Throughout their life that person also worked other jobs and dutifully contributed to social security.
  3. At minimum social security eligibility age received their full social security payout without the unfair WEP penalty.

Based on your expertise with the system I would like to learn more about how that can be accomplished because I am not seeing it in the present WEP formula.

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H.R.82 - Social Security Fairness Act of 2023.
The Act eliminates the financial penalties to teachers and public service professionals.

Contact information for members of the House:
House of Representatives

Contact information for members of the Senate:
Senate

Ha ha ha. Nice try! I’m not the one pushing for a change in the law.

Another good joke! No one dutifully contributes to Social Security. There is no choice in the matter.

You’re begging the question here. You’ve assumed without proof that the WEP provisions are unfair (whatever that term means). If you’re looking for an example of how people are treated differently, see my prior post about the two hypothetical participants who pay the same amount of Social Security taxes over 10 years or 35 years. The one who pays over 10 years and then works at a non-SS job with a pension for 25 years gets a pension in addition to SS. Without the WEP, that person is treated as the low-income worker, and gets a larger benefit as a percentage of SS taxes paid. Since that person isn’t a low-income worker, and gets other income in addition to Social Security, that seems like a reasonable arrangement to me. I’d love to hear your argument for why you think that person should be paid Social Security in an amount that assumes they earned only a low income for 35 years.

As you probably know, low-income workers have a much larger portion of their income “replaced” by Social Security than higher-income workers. I’d have to look up the numbers and maybe do some calculations I don’t care to do right now, but as I recall it’s something like 90% for very low income and decreases to around 30% for high-income earners.

What young adult thinks about social security or retirement? Very few. My point is that she is penalized far more than would be someone with a lower social security benefit, which is basically the deceased’s benefit minus one’s own. Versus the deceased’s minus 2x one’s own. Yes she has to pinch pennies very much more than she should have to…not sure how much if any it might have changed her choice to be a special ed teacher…we have another friend…her friend since early childhood, mine since she introduced us in college who taught in a different state, and will receive social security. The WEP and GPO penalties should not be for low to average wage earners, but if at all, only for high wage earners.

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Thank you ratbert2k. You seem to have demonstrated your misunderstanding of the system.

H.R. 82 has 263 cosponsors, 187 of whom are Democrats and 76 of whom are Republicans. S. 597 has 44 cosponsors, 36 of whom are Democrats, 5 of whom are Republicans, and 3 of whom are independents. It needs more support to get through but alas, there is little that can be done to convince ratbert2k.

Support the Social Security Fairness Act.
H.R.82 - Social Security Fairness Act of 2023.
The Act eliminates the financial penalties to teachers and public service professionals.

Contact information for members of the House:
https://www.house.gov/representatives

Contact information for members of the Senate:
https://www.senate.gov/senators/senators-contact.htm

Where you are wrong is that most teachers have other jobs that do pay into SS, either before, after, or during their teaching career. My own contributions were forfeited when I retired. If a teacher collects SS, it is moderated in amount because of the pension that each and every one of us had SUBTRACTED FROM OUR PAY MONTHLY by the retirement association/ school district without a choice. This is in addition to the cruddy high cost 403b plan I can contribute to instead of a 401k that is available to most other workers. It seems like you have a grudge against teachers.

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Please do explain how I’m wrong.

No, they were forfeited as soon as the Social Security taxes (they aren’t “contributions”) were taken out of your check, just like mine are. There’s nothing either of us can do about that. It’s the way the system was designed.

OK, now you’re just making things up.

The subtraction is due to the fact that you are covered by a pension that was funded with money that would otherwise have gone into Social Security. Had it gone into Social Security instead, you’d get more Social Security, but you wouldn’t get the pension. You’d probably get less in that case than you would with your pension.

I realize it’s frustrating to have no choice in whether to fund your pension or not. I feel the exact same way about Social Security. My wife has to pay for the state employee pension AND Social Security (but on the bright side, at least the WEP won’t apply to her). She does have access to the cruddy 403b plan, but we were able to find one that offers Vanguard funds at reasonable cost (Aspire, if that’s an option for you).

The solution here is to petition your state to have your teacher’s salary subject to Social Security taxes, rather than or in addition to requiring you to fund the pension. Then the WEP wouldn’t apply.

She’s penalized as much as she would be if she had worked at a SS-covered job her entire career and made the same amount of money. Then she’d have a higher SS benefit (rather than a pension), and would not get as much or anything from the survivor benefit.

The survivor benefit is meant to provide for people who were non-working spouses or low-wage part-time workers of higher-earning spouses. Without it, a stay-at-home mother whose husband died would get nothing. It makes sense that the survivor benefit wouldn’t be as much for a person who had their own reasonably well-paying career, who has their own Social Security or alternate pension. You might say that being a teacher doesn’t pay much, and I won’t argue with that, but it pays a lot more than part-time retail work, or other similar jobs a mother might take on occasion or at night simply to make ends meet when her husband’s check isn’t quite enough. My wife was an aide in the school when our kids were all in school, which paid a few dollars more than minimum wage–not a bad job for someone who wants the same schedule as the kids. She recently got her teaching license, and her pay increased by a factor of three.

I think the main problem is that too may people look at SS as a retirement/investment/benefit program and shouldn’t be. Even looking at the WEP reference I provided above the SSA itself refers to SS as a tax.

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Thank you billinin.
Depending upon the author, Social Security may be referred to as a tax, a contribution, an investment or a four-letter epithet.
The semantics of the system are not the focus of the legislation to fix the unfairness of WEP.
Support the Social Security Fairness Act.
H.R.82 - Social Security Fairness Act of 2023.
The Act eliminates the financial penalties to teachers and public service professionals.

Contact information for members of the House:
https://www.house.gov/representatives

Contact information for members of the Senate:
https://www.senate.gov/senators/senators-contact.htm