U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) has once again filed legislation in the U.S. Congress that would revise one of the two Social Security penalties that affect many Texas school employees. HR 5834 is also known as the “Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act of 2021.”
The vast majority of Texas school employees work in school districts that do not participate in Social Security. Many of those employees could be eligible for benefits either through their spouse or through their own employment in a job in which they did pay into Social Security. Federal law reduces Social Security benefits for employees who receive a public pension, such as TRS, that is based on work in which they did not pay into Social Security.
Bills have been filed for many congressional sessions to completely repeal the federal penalties, which are known as the Government Pension Offset (for spousal benefits) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (for the employee’s own earned benefits). Brady’s bill would replace the WEP with a revised, fairer calculation that would not eliminate the penalty but would lessen the reduction for most affected retirees. The legislation would also provide a rebate for those already receiving reduced payments under the current formula.
The bill currently has 38 cosponsors, 21 of whom are from Texas. Similar legislation by Brady received a committee hearing in 2016, but did not progress beyond that point. TCTA supported that bill, while still making clear in our testimony that our members would prefer to see a full repeal of both the WEP and the GPO.