The House Ways and Means Committee approved the Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 82) on Sept. 20, which would fully repeal the Windfall Elimination Program (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO) from the Social Security program. The WEP and GPO provisions unfairly reduce the Social Security benefits of most fire fighters who also held a second job during their careers. The IAFF strongly supports this legislation and urges Congress to pass H.R. 82 and remove these policies that unfairly burden retired fire fighters.
“Our retired brother and sister fire fighters deserve, and earned, a secure retirement through their career of service to the nation,” said General President Edward Kelly. “Our members sent a clear message to Congress in August when we adopted a resolution at our 56th Convention advocating for a full repeal of the WEP and GPO.
“Fire fighters often support their families by working a second job, but the WEP and GPO deny these fire fighters and their spouses the Social Security benefits they paid for and earned,” he continued. “The IAFF urges Congress to pass this bill and give our retired brothers and sisters the dignified retirement that they earned.”
The WEP and GPO provisions were intended to reduce the Social Security benefits of individuals who did not pay into Social Security during their working years. Fire fighters, and other public servants, often are not subject to Social Security taxes but do pay into the program when working a second job to support. When these fire fighters retire, they learn that the WEP and GPO can reduce their Social Security benefits by up to $500 per month due to not having paid Social Security taxes from their primary career.
Consistent with resolutions from the IAFF 56th Convention and other conventions, the IAFF proudly endorses any legislation that protects retired fire fighters from the WEP and GPO while preserving the ability of IAFF locals to make their own decisions about whether to enter Section 218 agreements and pay into Social Security. The IAFF has emphasized that it will oppose any attempt to force fire fighters into Social Security agreements.
The IAFF will continue working with other public sector unions, including the Fraternal Order of Police and American Federation of Teachers, to ensure public servants are not denied a secure retirement because of their public service career.
The Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 82/S. 1302) has more than 300 cosponsors in the House and is now eligible for a final vote in the House before then moving on to the Senate. The House is currently debating other WEP and GPO solutions in addition to the Social Security Fairness Act, including developing a new formula to make Social Security earnings proportional to what an individual paid into Social Security during their career. The IAFF urges Congress to provide meaningful relief to all fire fighters, both those currently retired and those who have not yet retired.