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Federal Legislation

Massachusetts Retirees United Legislative Interests at the Federal Level
Prepared by Marie Ardito
MRU Information Coordinator

If you see any issue that you are really interested in, send for more information to mardito@retireesunited.org
Repeal of the WEP/GPO

If Collecting a Federal Pension or State Pension from Massachusetts and 14 other States

LIST OF STATES AFFECTED BY GPO/WEP (15 states = 30% of U.S.)
Alaska, Connecticut, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, California, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Rhode Island, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, Texas, Plus all those in any state collecting a Government Pension.

Government Pension Offset (GPO)
Will not receive Social Security or will have it reduced by 2/3 either as a spousal or survivor benefit if not eligible to retire by December 1, 1982 or July 1, 1983
Will be eligible for Medicare

Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)

Will receive a greatly reduced percentage of what you are entitled to in Social Security unless:
Eligible to retire prior to January 1986
Have 30 years of substantial earnings
You are eligible for Medicare

Eligible to retire

By the dates specified above one must be 55 years of age and have ten years of service or have 20 years of service and be any age. The MTRS is the one who decides eligibility not Social Security. To see if you have 30 years of substantial earnings see the chart

What Constitutes Substantial Earning?

The following is a chart provided by Social Security. You are considered to have a year of substantial earnings if your earnings equal or exceed the figures shown for each year in the chart below. For the years 1937-1950 the total earnings from these years are divided by $900 to get the number of years of coverage to a maximum of 14 years.

Year ------------------------Earnings
1951-54 ----------------------900
2008 ------------------------18,975
2012--------------------------------------  20,475
2013--------------------------------------  21,075
2014--------------------------------------  21,750
2015-2016-------------------------------  22,o50
2017--------------------------------------  23,625

If you have 30 or more years of substantial savings the first factor of 90 percent is the same for you as it is for those not affected by the WEP. The following is a chart provided by Social Security of the percent of the first factor.

Years of Social Security Earnings--------------------First Factor
30 or more-----------------------------------------------90 percent
29---------------------------------------------------------85 percent
28---------------------------------------------------------80 percent
27---------------------------------------------------------75 percent
26---------------------------------------------------------70 percent
25---------------------------------------------------------65 percent
24---------------------------------------------------------60 percent
23---------------------------------------------------------55 percent
22---------------------------------------------------------50 percent
21---------------------------------------------------------45 percent
20 or less------------------------------------------------- 40 percent

To find the updated present status of the bill click here. You will see the number of Representatives in each state that are currently signed on to co-sponsor the bill.

Information on the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset and how each affects what you will collect from Social Security because of your MA pension. This tally is a report of the Congressmen who have signed on as co-sponsors of the Fairness Bill to repeal the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).

How Can You Help

When emailing a friend, relative, former colleague, in another state, not just the 15 states affected, send them a copy of the tally of their state acquired from the above tally. If their Representative or Senators are not aboard ask them to email them and ask them to co-sponsor the bill. Ask them to ask others they know in the state to do the same. It only takes five constituents contacting a member of Congress to send up a red flag that this is an important issue.

H.R. 1205, filed by Representative Rodney Davis of Illinois, calls for the complete repeal of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO). Please call your Congressman and ask that he/she co-sponsor this legislation.
S915, filed by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), calls for the complete repeal of the Windfall Elimination Provision(WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO). Please call your Senators and ask that he/she co-sponsor this legislation.

There is a 10% penalty for each year one does not sign up for Medicare beyond their 65th birthday. Apply for Medicare three months before your 65th birthday and let them tell you in a letter that you are not eligible. This should prevent you from being under penalty later if you become eligible.There is a surcharge for all those whose income exceeds presently $85,000 a year for a single person, $170,000 a year as a couple. The monthly premium surcharge can be anywhere from 39.9% to 219.9% depending on your income. The surcharge is usually based on your earnings of two years previous. There are some exceptions. Talk to your tax person about this.

Income Tax on Social Security Benefits

When Social security began the benefit was never supposed to be taxed. In 1983, Reagan signed a bill to allow 50% of SS annuity benefits to be taxed. This was the same time that the GPO/WEP penalties went into effect!

The Basic Rule

Up to 50% of Social Security benefits are taxable if total “provisional income” (adjusted gross income, tax-exempt interest and one half of Social Security benefits) exceeds a base amount.


· $25,000 for single taxpayers

· $32,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly

Very few Social Security recipients reached this amount in 1983. Now, most are paying tax on their Social Security. The amounts have never increased and we feel this should be addressed legislatively.

In 1993 Clinton increased the taxation to 85% when:
provisional income for single taxpayers exceeds $34,000
provisional income for married taxpayers filing jointly exceeds $44,00
all married taxpayers file separate returns but do not live apart

Legislation should be filed to increase the amounts in both the 50% and 85% bracket and then provide for increases each year (similar to what they do with the surcharge)

General information

Tips on writing effective letters to elected officials can be found here.
Here is more help in writing to Congress.