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Hirono Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Get Public Employees Full Social Security Benefits

Bill would ensure teachers and police officers get full Social Security benefits

WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) joined 24 of her Senate colleagues in introducing bipartisan legislation that would ensure public sector workers and their families can receive full Social Security benefits after two previous statutes reduced them. The bill, the Social Security Fairness Act, would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) from the Social Security Act—two statutes that have significantly reduced benefits for nearly 3 million Americans. The bill was led by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Susan Collins (R-ME). 

“Public sector employees work hard to ensure that our children and communities are cared for,” said Senator Hirono. “These employees are critical to our communities and our country, and they deserve access to their full Social Security benefits when they retire. The Social Security Fairness Act will help eliminate this injustice in our tax system and ensure public employees will be able to receive the benefits they have earned.”

The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), enacted in 1983, reduces the Social Security benefits of workers who receive pensions from a federal, state, or local government for employment not covered by Social Security.

The Government Pension Offset (GPO), enacted in 1977, reduces Social Security spousal benefits for spouses, widows, and widowers whose spouses receive pensions from a federal, state, or local government. Together, these provisions reduce Social Security benefits for nearly 3 million Americans – including many teachers and police officers.

The Social Security Fairness Act would repeal both the WEP and GPO statutes, ensuring public sector workers and their families receive their full Social Security benefits.

In addition to Senators Hirono, Brown, and Collins, the bill was also introduced by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Angus King (I-ME), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

Senator Hirono has been a strong advocate for Social Security and has consistently worked to ensure Social Security recipients get the benefits they have earned. Last month, she sent a letter urging the Social Security Administration to take action to reduce call hold times for individuals calling from Hawaii. Last July, she also reintroduced the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act, legislation that would strengthen Social Security’s financial state and ensure that seniors continue to benefit from the programs they have paid into throughout their lives.