Standing Up For Social Security
NEA is working to preserve America’s most successful anti-poverty program.
by Collin Berglund
Social Security just turned 75, and NEA is working to ensure that as educators approach their 70s, they’ll receive the same benefits their parents did.
Of great concern to NEA is the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform’s focus on cutting crucial public programs, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Policymakers have discussed raising the retirement age to reduce the number of people receiving benefits, for example.
But many educators already must work 45 years in the field to qualify for full Social Security benefits, and any further increase of the retirement age would be a hardship for those who can’t handle the rigors of teaching in their older years.
“We have workers who have paid into the system all of their working lives,” NEA President Dennis Van Roekel says. “To deny them what they deserve is simply wrong.”
Social Security, unlike most retirement plans, adjusts for inflation, lasts a lifetime, is independent of stock market fluctuations, and is payable to surviving family members for their lifetimes.
Over half of Social Security beneficiaries age 65 are women, and by age 85, women account for 71 percent of those receiving benefits. The vast majority of educators and more than three quarters of NEA’s members are female.
NEA has submitted comments and testified in person before the Commission, urging that members not succumb to the pressures of the recession or deficit hawks and reduce Social Security (read the comments online and submit your own here). NEA also joined with 60 national and state organizations, including the AFL-CIO and AFSCME, to form the Strengthen Social Security coalition, which represents more than 30 million Americans, to help protect the program from cuts or privatization.
President Obama formed the bipartisan Commission to increase tax revenue and suggest ways to prevent government spending growth in order to balance the budget by 2015. The Commission is scheduled to release its recommendations to Congress in December.
NEA also continues to advocate for full repeal of the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), which cut or eliminate Social Security benefits that educators or their spouses have earned.
Joyce Roberta Miller-Alper did not receive any of her husband’s benefits after his death in 2007, although he had 26 years under Social Security, and had contributed over $92,000.
“This issue has been put on the backburner time and time again,” Miller-Alper says. “It’s people’s lives we’re playing with.”
Read more and learn how to fight these unfair offsets at www.nea.org/gpowep.
What Happened to My Retirement?
Some retired educators are paying a price for their years of public service. Does that sound fair to you?
E-mail your members of Congress
Penalties for Public Service
See for yourself how unfair laws threaten the retirement security of educators. Women are disproportionately impacted. Tell Congress to support the Social Security Fairness Act and repeal laws that discourage qualified educators from the profession.