Green Speaks on Social Security Protection Act of 2003
March 4, 2003
Washington, DC - Congressman Gene Green made the following statement on the floor of the House of Representatives today regarding the Government Pension Offset (GPO) provision within the Social Security Protection Act:
The Social Security Protection Act, H.R. 743, includes a number of important provisions which will defend Social Security against fraud and abuse and ensure that disabled beneficiaries are protected. Unfortunately, this legislation fails to offer any protections to an equally important population; public employees who will suffer at the hands of an unfair provision know as the GPO.
In Texas, school teachers who educate our children, firefighters who protect us from harm and police officers who care for us during emergencies are not covered by Social Security. The GPO reduces spousal benefits by two-thirds, and in some cases eliminates benefits altogether.
This is particularly burdensome for widows, especially our public school teachers who have planned their retirement benefits thinking they would receive a full spousal benefit. Their spouses did pay into the Social Security Trust Fund.
The only way they can escape this unfair penalty is by working their last days in a job covered by Social Security and their retirement system.
Lets be clear, most of the impact of this provision is on women for whom at the time they chose their profession, teaching was the best opportunity.
But they retire to find that they are not eligible for a widows benefit, because they receive a public pension that was not covered under Social Security. By then, its too late.
We all know teachers in this country are chronically underpaid, and in need of every retirement benefit they can get.
Teachers should not be punished; we must address the underlying problem which is the unfair Government Pension Offset.