Fedweek

Legislation has been reintroduced in Congress (HR-2337) to soften the impact of the “windfall elimination provision” that reduces Social Security benefits of those also drawing an annuity from a retirement program that does not include Social Security, including the CSRS system.

That provision reduces the Social Security benefits earned by those persons—typically before or after federal service, or as side income while federally employed—if they have fewer than 30 years of “substantial” earnings under Social Security — this year, $26,550.

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The maximum reduction of the Social Security benefit works out to be about $500 a month this year; there is a lesser reduction for those with between 20 and 30 years of such earnings.

Under the bill, those already retired would receive an increase in benefits of the greater of $150 or the reduction they are subject to each month, starting nine months after enactment. Those retiring in 2023 or later would receive the greater of their current benefit or the benefit calculated under a new formula that sponsors say would be worth about $75 more a month to most.

Numerous bills have been offered over the years to either eliminate or soften the windfall provision, which affects some 2 million retirees, including some retirees of state and local governments. None have come close to enactment although the current measure does have the important sponsorship of the head of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass.

The NARFE organization said that “while this bill does not provide WEP-affected individuals the full repeal they are due, it represents a good first step in allowing some relief from this unreasonable penalty.”

The measure would not affect another Social Security reduction applying to CSRS system retirees, the “government pension offset” which reduces and in many cases eliminates a spousal or survivor Social Security benefit.

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