AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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AFT Resolutions

SOCIAL SECURITY OFFSET AND PUBLIC EMPLOYEES SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFIT REDUCTIONS

WHEREAS, the U.S. Social Security Administration exists to ensure that workers who contribute along with their employers into the Social Security system enjoy a retirement benefit guaranteed by the federal laws that regulate the system; and

WHEREAS, the state of Louisiana has established certain state retirement systems to ensure retirement benefits for employees designated by the acts of the Louisiana Legislature that regulate said retirement systems; and

WHEREAS, members of the state retirement systems, along with certain employees in 14 other states that created similar retirement systems, are not required to and do not participate along with their employers in the Social Security system; and

WHEREAS, some members of the state retirement systems have earned Social Security benefits through summer jobs or other employment or are entitled to spousal Social Security benefits; and

WHEREAS, the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset of the Social Security law mandate a reduction in Social Security benefits for members of the state retirement systems equal to the amount provided through those systems; and

WHEREAS, employees in the private sector are not similarly penalized by the Social Security Administration and may, in fact, draw their company-sponsored retirement benefits as well as full Social Security benefits upon their retirement; and

WHEREAS, many individuals who have never worked or paid into the Social Security system are allowed to draw full spousal benefits upon the death of a spouse who did participate in the Social Security system; and

WHEREAS, members of the pertinent state retirement systems are not allowed to draw full Social Security benefits upon the death of a spouse who did participate in the Social Security system; and

WHEREAS, the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset of the Social Security law are, therefore, discriminatory and place a hardship on those who have worked, earned and qualified for Social Security benefits at retirement; and

WHEREAS, more than 800,000 teachers, school support personnel, police officers, firefighters and other public employees have seen their Social Security benefits reduced or eliminated because they receive pensions for non-Social Security-covered employment, and each year 75,000 more public employee retirees are added to this number; and

WHEREAS, these penalties, the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) apply only to public pensions, and, although, in theory, were intended to curtail windfall benefits for highly paid individuals, in practice, have had a devastating consequence for low- and middle-income public employees; reducing benefits for some 200,000 individuals by more than $3,600 a year; and

WHEREAS, estimates indicate that nine out of 10 public employees affected by the GPO lose their entire spousal benefit, even though their deceased spouse paid Social Security taxes for many years, and the WEP causes low-paid public employees outside the Social Security system to lose up to 60 percent of their Social Security benefits; and

WHEREAS, the GPO and WEP have the harshest impact on those who can least afford the loss: lower-income women, and discriminate against individuals who have chosen to serve their communities or country in public employment; and

WHEREAS, by targeting the pensions of teachers and other school employees and health care professionals who work in the public sector, these penalties discourage qualified individuals from entering these fields precisely at the time when our nation faces a severe shortage:

RESOLVED, that the AFT enter into coalition with affected groups and organizations and work toward abolition of the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset of the Social Security law; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT encourage its affiliates to petition senators and representatives to abolish the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset of the Social Security law; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT urge Congress to reduce these penalties and take steps to return public employees in retirement systems outside Social Security to the full benefits of the program while maintaining existing public retirement systems; and

RESOLVED, that necessary changes in these provisions, which would reduce the Social Security Tax Funds, be financed by elimination of excessive federal tax cuts passed in 2001, such as the elimination of the tax on estates valued at more than $2 million.


(2002)