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Letter thanking Reps. Berman and McKeon for supporting the Social Security Fairness Act (1/6/09)

January 06, 2009

Dear Representatives Berman and McKeon:

On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we would like to thank you for your continued leadership in support of public employees and for re-introducing the Social Security Fairness Act.  This important legislation will ensure that educators and other public servants can receive the full Social Security benefits they or their spouse have earned. 

As you know, two provisions of federal law – the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) – unfairly reduce the retirement benefits of public employees who have dedicated their lives to serving their communities and their country.  Many of those impacted expect to receive the full Social Security benefit they or their spouse have earned, and often remain unaware of the offsets until they reach retirement age.  The resulting loss of income forces some into poverty and onto expensive government assistance programs. 

The GPO and WEP also have broader implications for our nation.  In particular, the offsets act as strong disincentives for both mid-career professionals and younger adults to move into teaching.  The offsets also negatively impact firefighters, police officers, and other public service professions. 

By repealing these two unfair provisions, your bill will help ensure retired educators the benefits they earned and counted on in planning their retirement.  The bill will also help encourage talented individuals who might otherwise fear a loss of earned Social Security benefits to enter and remain in the teaching profession.

Your bill recognizes and respects the contributions of educators and other public employees by eliminating unfair penalties attached to public service.  We thank you for your ongoing strong support on this important issue and look forward to continuing to work with you toward passage of your bill.

Sincerely,

Diane Shust                                                                             Randall Moody

Director of Government Relations                                         Manager of Federal Advocacy