Bill would end federal retirees' Social Security cutbacks

Thousands of federal retirees would no longer receive reduced Social Security benefits, under a bill introduced in the House Thursday by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. The bill aims to correct what is known as the windfall elimination provision. The provision, enacted in 1983, reduces Social Security benefits for people who spent most of their careers working for the government and part of their careers working in a job covered by Social Security. A Social Security Administration publication explains the provision in more detail.

"It is terribly unfair to people who have planned for their retirements based on the information given to them about their expected Social Security benefits to suddenly find out, when they actually retire, that they will be receiving much less money," said Frank. The windfall elimination provision affects federal employees enrolled in the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Frank's legislation would exempt from the provision CSRS retirees whose combined federal retirement and Social Security benefits are less than $2,000 a month. About 70 percent of federal retirees would be helped by Frank's bill, according to Social Security Administration estimates. Another 23 percent of federal retirees above the $2,000 threshold would receive more Social Security benefits under the bill, Frank said. "A partial repeal has a better chance of passing, and that is why the bill has been drafted in this fashion," said Frank. Frank introduced similar legislation in the previous two Congresses. The National Association of Retired Federal Employees has endorsed Frank's bill. Last week, Rep. Max Sandlin, D-Texas, introduced a bill (H.R. 848) that would eliminate the windfall elimination provision entirely.