RPEC Weekly Newsflash, September 22, 2023
RPEC Heads to DC for Social Security Fairness Act
RPEC leaders are headed to “the other Washington” to support the Social Security Fairness Act. President Clair Olivers, Secretary and Legislative Committee Chair Nancy Heley, and Associate Director Derek VanSpoor will meet with members of Washington’s congressional delegation to support legislation that will repeal the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). Both provisions create unfair Social Security reductions for many retired public employees and their family members. Together, about 25% of public workers across the country are impacted.
Social Security pays benefits to the spouses of retired and disabled workers and to widow(er)s of deceased workers. The Government Pension Offset (GPO) requires a reduction in the Social Security spousal and widow(er)’s benefit received by public employees who earn a pension from non-covered employment. The GPO offset amounts to a two-thirds reduction in one’s public pension. If two-thirds of one’s government pension is more than their Social Security benefit, their benefit could be reduced to zero. The GPO hurts low-wage public sector workers, particularly women, who often find the Social Security benefits they expected substantially diminished. As of December 2022, more than half a million Social Security beneficiaries saw GPO take away all of their spousal or widow(er)’s benefits. About 96% of all individuals hurt by GPO were women.
The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) reduces the Social Security benefit of a public employee who has job earnings in non-covered employment, but who also worked in covered employment and qualified for a Social Security benefit by working at least 10 years. WEP applies to people who split their careers and received both a pension from uncovered work and Social Security benefits based on fewer than 30 years in covered employment. WEP reduces a worker’s standard monthly benefits by up to 55%.
The Social Security Fairness Act (S. 597/H.R. 82), which repeals GPO and WEP, was introduced by Senators Sherrod Brown (D, OH) and Susan Collins (R, ME) and Representatives Garrett Graves (R, LA) and Abigail Spanberger (D, VA). The legislation has broad bipartisan support.
While in DC, leaders will also attend the AFSCME Retirees annual meeting, meet with healthcare policy staff to discuss federal support for state-level healthcare priorities, and urge Congress to pass spending bills to avoid a potential government shutdown.
DRS Hosting Seminar for RPEC Members
One of the perks of being a member of RPEC is the diversified partnerships and affiliations the organization has with other entities and organizations. These connections allow us to offer a variety of news, training, and support for our members. An upcoming opportunity for RPEC members is an upcoming seminar hosted by the Department of Retirement Systems (DRS) in which they will address a variety of topics that are most relevant to current and soon-to-be retirees. DRS manages and administers pensions for our members in PERS, PSERS, SERS, and TRS.
Please join us on November 3rd @ 1:00 PM for an opportunity to hear directly from the experts about topics relevant to you and your pension. There will be a brief presentation given by an Administrator from DRS followed by a Q & A session. Whether you’re a new retiree, soon-to-be-retired, or have been retired for some time, there will be relevant and valuable information for you.
Register in advance for this meeting:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
National Voter Registration Day
September 19th was National Voter Registration Day, a sign that state elections are arriving soon. If you haven’t already, be sure to get registered before the deadline. For mail and online registrations, the deadline is October 30th, and for in-person voting, you can vote up until 8 PM on Election Day, November 7th.
If you are registered but recently moved, changed your name, or became a citizen, it is crucial that you get your information updated through the Vote WA website prior to the registration deadline.
Dates & Deadlines: https://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/elections-calendar/dates-and-deadlines-2023
Make sure you’re VOTE READY!
“Voting is not only our right – it is our power.” – Loung Ung, Human Rights Activist
November 1-30 is open enrollment, the monthlong time when retirees who earn their healthcare benefits through PEBB may change healthcare plans. With premium costs increasing for all plans, RPEC has worked with the Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) to produce a three-part recorded webinar series that will be available on the RPEC website to help RPEC members, who earn their healthcare benefits from PEBB, better understand their choices among PEBB plans.
BREAKING NEWS! – View Part 1 of the SHIBA Webinar here! Parts 2 and 3 will be recorded in the next couple of weeks.
Additionally, the Health Care Authority (HCA) will cover details about open enrollment in the PEBB October newsletter, which you will receive in the mail by mid- to late-October. HCA is also preparing website pages on open enrollment, which will be “live” on November 1st. In the meantime, information is available at this link to help you prepare for open enrollment. PEBB and SEBB members: Prepare for open enrollment.
In addition to offering information and videos on the website, HCA will host in-person benefits fairs in November. More details about the in-person benefits fairs will be available on the HCA website later this month. The proposed dates/locations include:
- November 1: Vancouver and Spokane
- November 2: Centralia and Cheney
- November 3: Olympia/Lacey and Pullman
- November 6: Bellingham and Pasco
- November 7: Everett and Yakima
- November 8: Shoreline/Seattle and Ellensburg
- November 9: Tacoma/Lakewood
- November 14: Port Angeles and Bremerton
Please refer to our calendar page for more information about each event, including links to Zoom meetings, if available.
- Sept. 28 – Healthcare Workgroup Meeting (3:30 pm)
- Oct. 6 – Legislative Committee Meeting (10:00 am)
- Oct. 6 – Monthly Legislative Update Call (2:00 pm)
- Oct. 12 – Healthcare Workgroup (3:30 pm)
- Oct. 17 – Select Committee on Pension Policy Meeting (10:00 am)
- Oct. 26 – Membership Committee Meeting (10:00 am)
- Oct. 26 – Senior Lobby Fall Conference
- Oct. 26 – Healthcare Workgroup Meeting (3:30 pm)