HR 711 (click here for more details), a bill that would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision and replace it with a fairer calculation of Social Security benefits for Texas school employees and other similarly situated government workers, was scheduled for a vote on Wednesday, July 13, as part of a budget markup session in the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee. The WEP is one of the two federal Social Security offsets that lower or eliminate Social Security benefits for most Texas school employees. It penalizes employees who have vested in a public retirement system (such as TRS) for work in which they did not pay into Social Security, but who have also worked in other jobs long enough to earn benefits.
A vote on HR 711 would have been the first real movement on the issue in years. However, Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas, co-author of HR 711, announced at the beginning of the hearing that the bill had been pulled down because public employees were not united in support of the bill. He said consideration would be postponed until the “community could come together and unite behind a solution.”
The current WEP calculation applies an arbitrary percentage that lowers benefits without regard to an employee’s individual situation. HR 711, by Texas Congressman (and Ways and Means Committee Chair) Kevin Brady, would consider each an employee's specific salary history to calculate benefits. There would still be a penalty, but employees subject to the penalty would receive about $78 more per month, on average, than under the WEP.
TCTA supported the bill in testimony to the Social Security subcommittee earlier this year, though we noted that our members still prefer a total repeal and expressed concerns about certain aspects of the bill's proposed approach.
TCTA will continue to work on this issue and the Government Pension Offset (the penalty affecting spousal benefits), and we encourage our members to contact their Congressional representatives to urge support for a solution.
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