NAPUS: Ways and Means Committee “Tables” WEP Bill

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) “tabled” a vote on an amended version of H.R. 711, the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act. The measure would have reduced the impact of the Social Security’s Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) on about 1.7 million retired public employees, including Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) annuitants. The NAPUS-supported “original” bill attracted 119 cosponsors. However, a day before committee consideration, Chairman Brady, the author of the bill, abruptly proposed an amendment that would have dramatically decreased the WEP relief provided by the bill. Originally, the bill would have reduced the WEP penalty by about 50%; the amendment would have reduced the penalty by only 15%. Brady offered no explanation as to the reason for the amendment. In response to the amendment, many of the groups that had previously promoted H.R. 711, withdrew support. Consequently, Brady deferred action on the bill.

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This article first appeared on NAPUS 7/14/16 – PEN

One Response to "NAPUS: Ways and Means Committee “Tables” WEP Bill"

  1. Andrew Szakmary   August 29, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Here is the reason for the amendment: according to Stephen Goss, Chief Actuary of SS, the original version of HR 711 would have subjected 7 million current SS beneficiaries, many of them in their 80’s and 90’s, to what would have effectively amounted to extremely intrusive WEP audits. Almost everyone with even one year of non-covered wages in SS records going back to 1978 would have been required to obtain a certification letter from each past non-covered employer that they were not eligible to receive a pension based on that employment, and failure to produce such a letter for any reason by the end of 2016 would have resulted in a retroactive applicatation of the current WEP to such individuals back to the day they first claimed SS benefits, with past “overpayments” recovered from their future checks. It was this ensnarement of millions of current beneficiaries in a bureaucratic hellhole that was expected to produce the “savings” that could be applied to alleviating the WEP penalty for those currently affected.

    Given the outrage the expansion of the WEP to so many currently retired, mostly innocent victims would have caused, I think Brady was quite wise to modify his bill. However, even under the modified version 14 million future beneficiaries who are currently exempt from the WEP, either because they have 30 years of substantial covered SS earnings or because they are not receiving pensions from non-covered employment, will become subject to the WEP because even the modified bill unfairly eliminates these exemptions for future retirees. Another reason Brady tabled the bill is because Democrats on the committee were offering amendments that would have restored these exemptions, and it was apparent that they were going to pass. Of course, had the amendments passed, the bill would not have saved the government any money, which was Brady’s real motivation all along.

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