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National Association of Letter Carriers
Arizona State Association

Affiliated AFL-CIO

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The National Association of Letter Carriers
Legislative Fact Sheet on Retiree Issues

The Government Pension Offset act

Those employees covered by the Civil Service Retirement System retiring December 1982 and later are affected by the Government Pension Offset (GPO). The GPO reduces or eliminates the Social Security spouse or survivor benefits a federal retiree may be eligible for, based on the Social Security record of his/her wife or husband. The Social Security benefit is reduced by an amount equal to two thirds of the retiree's CSRS annuity.

There have been many attempts over the years to create a legislative solution to this unfair law. S717, introduced by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and HR 1217 submitted by Representative William Jefferson D-LA) are the latest efforts to find a solution to this problem. Under these measures, the offset would be removed for any whose combined government pension or annuity and spousal Social Security benefit is $1,200 per month or less. For those with more than $1,200 per month, the two-thirds offset would apply on amounts over $1,200. The House bill has been referred to the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee and the Senate bill is before the Finance Committee.

The NALC is working hard to see that these measures pass, and NALC members should contact that their representatives and urge them to cosponsor either HR 1217 or S717.

The Windfall Elimination Provision IWEP)

Letter carriers covered under the CSRS do not pay into Social Security. In 1983, Congress inserted the "Windfall Elimination Provision" which changed the formula for computing Social Security benefits to reduce payments to people who had worked under the CSRS and also in another job that qualified them for Social Security benefits. It applies to anyone who becomes 62 (or disabled) after 1985 and becomes eligible for his or her government annuity after 1985. In some cases, this provision can reduce the worker's earned Social Security benefit by as much as 55.6%.

Representative Max Sandlin (D-TX) has introduced HR 742, which would completely repeal the WEP. Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) has introduced HR 860 which would modify the WEP, exempting those whose combined government pension and Social Security payments are less than $2,000 a month. It would gradually phase in the formula for retirees who collect between $2,000 and $3,000 a month from these two sources. People receiving over $3,000 each month would not be affected by Rep. Frank's bill and would be full subject to the WEP.

The NALC supports both HR 742 and HR 860. While complete repeal of the WEP is called for, the cost of this fix may be too much for a budget conscious Congress. For that reason, HR 860 may present the best opportunity to address the problem while remaining politically viable.

For More Information Contact the NALC Legislative Department at (202) 393-4695


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