Reform Of SS Pension Offset Continues To Gain Support

NOVEMBER 1999 - According
to the Coalition to Assure Retirement Equity (CARE), the push for
legislation, to help those public pensioners hit hard by Social
Security’s government pension offset (GPO) law, will continue through
next year. CARE’s focus has been HR 1217, sponsored by Rep. William
Jefferson (D-LA) and the Senate companion bill, S 717, sponsored by
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). Basically, HR 1217 changes the GPO’s
offset formula so that the reduction in the social security, of an
affected pensioner, is lessened, but not entirely eliminated.

As a CARE member, we have been reporting extensively on the GPO issue (Nov. 1998 Voice) and HR 1217 (July 1999 Voice)
over the past months. Currently HR 1217 remains in the Social Security
Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee (S 717 in the Senate
Finance Committee).

While some
could be disheartened by the fact that HR 1217 is still in the
subcommittee, there is good news. The number of co-sponsors to the bill
has risen to 192 representatives, up sharply from the 143 reported in
our July Voice.

This number
is significant since the fast-approaching number 218 represents over
half of the members of the House of Representatives. "We believe that
as the number of co-sponsors continues to increase, HR 1217 will garner
more attention from the House Leadership, including the subcommittee
chairman, Rep. Clay Shaw (R-Fla)," explained Judy Park, legislative
director of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees
(NARFE). NARFE has been the leading national organization on the GPO
issue and spearheading CARE’s efforts.

Similar
to the Mass Legislature, the US Congress has a two-year session, with
year 2000 being the second year of the current session. This means that
bills, including HR 1217, will not die at year’s end but carry over
through year 2000.

"We expect
CARE’s efforts to intensify as the Congress continues its work next
year," says Legislative Chairman Bill Hill. "Fortunately, with the two
year session, the push towards the magic 218 can proceed unabated."

As
we go to press, the following members of the Mass delegation have
signed onto HR 1217: Rep. Capuano, Delahunt, Frank, Markey, Meehan,
McGovern, Moakley, Olver and Tierney. Senator Kerry has signed onto S
717.

Nothing New On Mandated Coverage

On
another Social Security front, there have been no major developments in
the Congress on mandatory coverage for newly hired public
employees."You could view the inaction favorably at least for now,"
states Hill.

"Needless to say,
we’ll continue to work with and through the Coalition to Preserve
Retirement Security (CPERS) to defeat mandated social security for new
hires."

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