WEP Reform Talks Ramp Up

WEP Reform Talks Ramp Up
Association Officials Meet With Rep. Kevin Brady

Association Officials Cautiously Optimistic

SEPTEMBER 12, 2014: This week Association officials traveled to Washington, D.C. for a series of meetings on the issue of the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision – AKA the “WEP” law.

As we have recently reported in the July and September editions of the Voice, our Association has been working closely with the Retired Texas Teachers Association and Ohio Retirees to develop a proposal that would change the WEP formula for current, as well as future retirees. The Retired Texas Teachers have made inroads with Congressman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), who is a senior member of the Republican House leadership.

Brady has a deep understanding of public pension issues and is viewed as an expert on both the WEP and Government Pension Offset (GPO) laws. He is also universally respected on Capitol Hill as a serious legislator and consensus builder. Brady maintains a good working relationship with senior Massachusetts Congressman Richie Neal (D-Springfield).

In addition to meeting with Neal and nearly the entire Massachusetts delegation, Association President Frank Valeri and Legislative Liaison Shawn Duhamel spent over an hour with Brady and the House Ways and Means staff discussing reform scenarios. The Association's efforts in Washington are spearheaded by Tom Lussier of LGVA, a Washington-based firm specializing in Social Security

“Most people seem to agree that the current WEP law is unfair. There is serious work being done to try to craft a plan that would reform the WEP law in a way that would reflect retirees’ actual contributions into Social Security over their lifetime,” says Association President Frank Valeri. “After meeting with the officials involved in this effort, I have to say that I’m cautiously optimistic that a deal can be reached and a bill passed within the next year. However, much work remains to be done before we can declare victory for our members.

“I also want to assure our members affected by the GPO that you have not been forgotten. While we have always treated the WEP and GPO as one issue, the fact is that they are two separate issues. Since the WEP is specific to what a retiree has earned under Social Security by paying into the program themselves, it is an easier issue to fund and build consensus around.”

“We will continue to work on both the WEP and GPO simultaneously, but as separate bills. Our hope is to soon have answers to our remaining questions and be able to see a concrete reform proposal this fall that would be sponsored by a bipartisan group of senior members of Congress,” explains Duhamel. “Then perhaps a bill could be moved forward during the first part of 2015, before the presidential election season gets fully underway.”

Members should look to their November 2014 edition of the Voice for in-depth information regarding the WEP and GPO laws, along with ongoing reform efforts.