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The Point: Social Security Fairness Act, help for retirees might be coming


Greetings, Colleagues,  

I am pleased to turn this week’s Point over to Jonathan Millman, Senior Lecturer II in Economics, who is providing us with information impacting those members who, when they retire, are eligible to collect both social security and their state pension.  Current federal laws prohibit a person from collecting their full social security if they are also receiving a government pension. The Social Security Fairness Act rights a wrong and will allow those affected the ability to receive their fully earned social security.   


Jeff Melnick  

Vice President, FSU  

In 1977 the Government Pension Offset (GPO) provision of Social Security was enacted, and in 1983 the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) of Social Security was passed. “The Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset are two separate provisions that reduce regular Social Security benefits for workers and their eligible family members if the worker receives (or is entitled to) a pension based on earnings from employment not covered by Social Security” (Zhe Li Congressional Research Service).   

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts does not participate in the Social Security System.  Massachusetts workers who have accrued social security benefits through non-government Social Security covered employment and are members of The Massachusetts State Employees Retirement System (MSERS), the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP), or the Smart Plan, will have their regular social security benefits reduced by as much as 50% when they begin receiving their state retirement benefits.   

Below is a relevant notification from the Massachusetts Alliance for Retired Persons (, which has been working to repeal the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP):  

U.S. Senate Bill filed to Repeal Unfair WEP/GPO Provisions  

“The effort to repeal the highly unjust provisions which prevent many public employees from receiving the social security benefits they have earned. On March 1, Senator Sherrod Brown [D-OH] introduced S.597, the Social Security Fairness Act together with his principal co-sponsor Sen. Susan Collins [R-ME]. Among the 23 initial co-sponsors listed on March 1 were both of the Commonwealth’s U.S. Senators, Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey.  

The bill would totally repeal both the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) provision which were adopted during the Reagan era as part of an attack on public employees. The provisions which S.597 will repeal prevent public employees from the federal government and from those state and local governments which have elected not to pay into the social security system for their workers, from receiving the benefits they have earned by virtue of social security payments they have made in other jobs they have held in their working lives. The GPO further drastically reduces the social security spousal benefits which would otherwise go to surviving spouses who are in the discriminated against public retiree categories. This discrimination occurs even when the deceased spouse contributed to social security throughout their working life. Federal Employees and Massachusetts state and local retirees are among those most affected.  

S.597 was welcomed by the Social Security Fairness Task Force which has been campaigning for years to overturn the unjust WEP/GPO provisions. A similar bill, H.R.82, had been filed earlier in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Massachusetts Alliance has been on a campaign to win co-sponsors for the House version of the bill. So far Representatives Keating, Lynch, McGovern, Moulton, Pressley, and Trahan have all co-sponsored H.R. 82. To help further the campaign for social security justice it is important that all Alliance members either call or email our two Senators who co-sponsored S.597 and their Representatives, listed above, who have co-sponsored H.B. 82 to thank them for their support to Social Security Fairness.  

It is also especially important that Massachusetts Alliance members whose Representatives (Jake Auchincloss CD4, Katherine Clark CD5, Richard Neal CD1) have not yet co-sponsored H.R.82 contact the Representative and request that they co-sponsor. Representatives Auchincloss and Clark co-sponsored an earlier version of the bill in 2022 when the taskforce had succeeded in obtaining over 300 co-sponsors. Representative Neal indicated that he had not co-sponsored in the past because he chaired the committee to which the bill was assigned, a position he no longer holds. It has been a long time coming, but the Social Security Fairness task hopes victory may be in sight.”

What you can do:  Contact your members of Congress and tell them to support S.597 and H.R.82.   If Katherine Clark is your representative, ask her to become a H.R.82 co-sponsor .  If Jake Auchincloss is your representative, contact him to ask him to co-sponsor . 

You can also monitor the legislation's progress at  

Jon Millman

Senior Lecturer II