Passing Social Security WEP Reform in 2020

Passing Social Security WEP Reform in 2020

The harm brought to nearly 2 million public retirees by the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) is a serious problem that must be resolved. In Massachusetts alone, some 74,000 public retirees have had their Social Security benefit reduced by the WEP. The numbers grow every day as new retirees apply for Social Security.

For Mass Retirees members who are new to this issue, wondering why Massachusetts is impacted by WEP or simply want to learn more about the issue, please click here.

Despite all of the challenges we are collectively facing, our Association has never lost focus on the need to reform the WEP. We know that thousands of our members are harmed by this law and lose hundreds of dollars each month. Mass Retirees is committed to working as hard as we possibly can, for as long as it takes, to bring relief to those members impacted by WEP. 

Specifically, together with our close allies the Retired Texas Teachers Association (TRTA), we have reignited the national effort to pass WEP reform legislation through Congress in 2020. What this means is that we are working directly with public retiree organizations within the other states that are heavily impact by WEP (CA, CO, IL, LA, OH, TX and others) to broaden our outreach to members of Congress all across the country.

There are public retirees harmed by WEP, just like you, spread across all 50 states. We need them actively involved in the fight to reform WEP. If we work together, we will win.

By now you should have received your copy of our November newsletter. On page 2 there is an open letter from Congressman Richard Neal reaffirming his support for passing WEP reform – hopefully in 2020, before Congress adjourns for the year. Our friends in Texas have received that same commitment from Congressman Kevin Brady, as well as their two US Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. 

What makes the support of these three Texas Republicans so important is that their voices are critical if a WEP reform proposal is to pass the GOP controlled US Senate in 2020.

Click here to watch this week’s video report on WEP Reform.

The WEP reform legislation filed by Congressman Neal (H.R. 4540) is not terribly different than that filed by Congressman Brady (H.R. 3934) or by Senator Cruz (S. 3401). Mass Retirees supports and is focused on passing Neal’s H.R. 4540, because it would bring the most relief to current retirees with up to $150 a month added to a WEP’d retiree’s Social Security benefit.  The GOP proposals would add $100 a month to the benefit.

So, what does that mean and where do we go from here? As Congressman Neal explained to our members during our Town Hall meeting this summer, he is working to attach the H.R. 4540 proposal to what is known as “must pass” legislation – such as a federal appropriation or budget bill that needs to be passed by Congress in order for our government to stay open. The most likely timeframe for this to occur in 2020 is over the 4-5 weeks from mid-November to mid-December. 

In order to pass WEP reform in 2020, bipartisan cooperation and compromise will have to happen. I believe this is possible, but only if we continue to do our part to keep the pressure on. And this means that our national alliance partners have to help out. We cannot do this alone!

For our members, you can help by once again contacting your local member of Congress AND your two US Senators. Ask that they make passage of Social Security WEP reform in 2020 a priority. We have bipartisan agreement that the current law is unfair. Now is the time to act!

If your local member of Congress has not signed on as a cosponsor of H.R. 4540, please ask them to sign on and help pass the bill into law. Click here to view the cosponsor list.

Now there continues to be a national campaign to pass full repeal of the WEP and GPO laws (H.R. 141S. 521). Proponents of these two bills have been successful at gaining cosponsors, which is similar to what has happened in the past, but it is highly unlikely that legislation fully repealing the WEP and GPO laws will pass the House – never mind the US Senate, where a 60 vote majority is needed to pass legislation. As has been the case throughout the 37 year history of reform efforts, full repeal legislation is unlikely to pass Congress.

For this reason, Mass Retirees is focused on passing WEP reform and then working to improve the benefit from there. As I have said in the past, we cannot allow another generation of public retirees to suffer while we await the perfect solution. After 37 years of waiting, the time to act is now.


Before closing, let me address one more point. From time to time I hear from members who suggest that we should just give up on WEP. They suggest that the fight is too hard and gone on for too long, so why not just throw in the towel.

Quitting is never an option. This issue to too important and too many of our members have been harmed for us to ever give up. Besides, if I learned one thing from our founder Ralph White it is that you never stop fighting for our members.

I can’t promise you that we will be successful this year or even next. I will promise you that we will continue to do everything in our power to bring you relief from the WEP and GPO laws. Nothing would make me and our entire organization happier than to make 2020 the year when we were finally successful.

Thank you for taking the time to read this long update and thank you for doing your part to help. We can only be successful by sticking together as one.

With deep appreciation, 



Shawn Duhamel

Chief Executive Officer

Mass Retirees Association