Social Security: Why Police and Teachers Get Reduced Benefits and How That May Change

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Millions of Americans who worked in public sector jobs could see a boost in their Social Security benefits in the future.

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On Sept. 20, a congressional committee voted for a bill that, if passed, would nullify existing rules that reduce benefits for certain public workers — including teachers, firefighters, police and government employees. The bill, called the Social Security Fairness Act, was submitted to the House of Representatives by the House Ways and Means Committee.

As it stands, the Social Security Act includes two rules that reduce benefits for public servants: the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO).

The WEP reduces Social Security checks for retirees who are eligible for benefits based on past work, but who simultaneously received a public pension from employment not covered by Social Security. The GPO reduces spousal benefits for surviving spouses who are also recipients of government pensions.

Both rules would be repealed if the Social Security Fairness Act is passed, putting more cash in the pockets of affected retirees.

The Social Security Fairness Act received bipartisan support, with 300 co-sponsors out of the 435 reps who voted.

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But whether the bill will be passed remains to be seen, as it would cost roughly $150 billion over 10 years per Emerson Sprick, policy analyst at the Bipartisan Policy Center, who spoke with CNBC about the proposal.

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The main problem with the proposal as it stands is that it doesn’t explain how it would address Social Security’s solvency crisis. According to the Congressional Research Service, projections show that Social Security will be unable to pay out due benefits in full and on schedule as soon as 2035.

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