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Provisions Unfairly Target Public Employees

The Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision apply only to persons receiving public pensions, not those receiving private pensions. While retired public employees have their Social Security or survivor benefits reduced, non-public employees with private pensions get to keep their entire pension and receive their full Social Security or survivor benefits.

The Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision thus severely and unfairly limit the retirement benefits of public employees.

The Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision substantially reduce benefits that workers and spouses had counted on when planning their retirement. The arbitrary Windfall Elimination Provision formula does not eliminate "windfalls." Rather, because of its regressive nature, the Windfall Elimination Provision causes a relatively larger reduction in benefits to low-paid workers. It also penalizes lower paid workers with short careers or those whose careers are evenly split inside and outside the Social Security system.

Educators Should Be Able to Count on Equitable Share of Income

A significant number of teachers have decided to turn to teaching late in life after years in private sector employment. Many women work part time in the education profession while also spending more time at home to raise their children. These educators have relatively limited service and their chosen career path provides a modest public pension. Individuals who held jobs in Social Security-covered employment, or who are eligible for Social Security based on their spouse's covered employment, should be able to count on a more equitable share of that income to sustain them through their retirement years.

Both the Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision can affect some individuals. The application of these provisions can have a severe impact on the financial security of retirees who have spent some portion of their working careers serving the public (e.g., educators, police officers, fire fighters and many other federal, state and local government workers).

Nine of 10 Lose Spousal Benefit

Estimates indicate that nine out of 10 public employees affected by the Government Pension Offset lose their entire spousal benefit, even though their deceased spouse paid Social Security taxes for many years.

The Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision have the harshest impact on those who can least afford the loss: lower-income women.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Government Pension Offset reduces benefits for some 200,000 individuals by more than $3,600 a year. The Windfall Elimination Provision causes low-paid public employees outside the Social Security system, like teachers and other education employees, to lose up to 60 percent of the Social Security benefits to which they are entitled. Ironically, the loss of these benefits may make these women and men eligible for more costly assistance, such as food stamps.

There are also a significant number of people eligible for retirement who have been forced back into the workforce to make up for the effects of the Government Pension Offset.