GPO/WEP Update

MARCH 2002
- With November elections fast approaching, the 107th Congress is
feeling added pressure to finally enact relief from the Government
Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Laws in 2002. (For a quick overview
of these laws, check out our "GPO And WEP Explained: In A Nutshell"
article from the September 2001 Voice.) Mindful of this, the
Association, with the other coalition members in CARE (Coalition to
Assure Retirement Equity), have shifted into high gear to achieve one
objective over the next few months - GPO and WEP relief becoming law.

"Strike
while the iron is hot, is very apropos when it comes to GPO and WEP
relief this year," comments Legislative Chairman Bill Hill. "We're
working closely with NARFE (National Association of Retired Federal
Employees) and the other CARE members during this critical stage in the
coalition's efforts."

Further
evidence that the Congress feels the heat can be seen in the actions
taken by the congressional leadership, namely Congressman Clay Shaw
(R-FL), who chairs the House Social Security Subcommittee. It is from
this influential subcommittee, that a GPO and WEP relief bill will be
reported out.

In December, Chairman
Shaw released his own bill (H.R. 3497) for overhauling Social Security.
Among his many proposals, is one provision that would reform the GPO
law.

Under the current GPO
formula, SS spousal benefits of those public retirees, affected by the
federal law, are reduced by two-thirds (2/3) of their public pension.
Chairman Shaw is proposing that the law be changed so that only
one-third (1/3) of their pension offset their SS spousal benefits.

Essentially,
this would lessen the GPO's reduction by one-half. According to Bill
Hill, "Rep.Shaw's proposal may not help out those with smaller pensions
(i.e., $900 monthly) and spousal benefits (i.e., $600 monthly) as much
as they would under the bill that we've been supporting for several
years (H.R. 664). But it's an important step in the right direction by
the leadership in Congress."

H.R.
664, which is also in the Soc. Sec. Subcommittee with H.R. 3497 and the
other GPO and WEP relief bills, now has 281 cosponsors (almost 65% of
the House). Congressman Barney Frank's bill to provide WEP relief (H.R.
1073) currently has 216 supporters - just 2 short of a majority (218)
in the US House of Representatives.

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