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Social Security limits hurt public retirees

DEAR EDITOR:

I have been writing to legislators for over 30 years on behalf of government retirees regarding the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) of the Social Security Act, which significantly reduce or eliminate the earned Social Security of federal, state and local government retirees and their surviving spouses.

GPO and WEP penalizes individuals who have dedicated their careers to public service and their spouses by taking away Social Security benefits they have rightfully earned. This results in thousands of dollars of lost benefits every year, drastically affecting retirees living on fixed income. This law was passed in 1982 to prevent “fat cat” career politicians from double dipping and had no regard for hard-working government employees. Understand, it does not hit until you retire and are living on a fixed income.

Now, the devastation of these provisions is hitting home. My husband of 67 years passed away and, in calling Social Security to report his death, I was informed that I would get none of his Social Security benefits because I was a retired federal employee. He had worked in the private sector and paid into Social Security for over 35 years. Without his Social Security monthly check, my living income is drastically reduced. Understand, widows are hit the hardest, losing more than 50 percent of living income.

Please know, federal retirees get nothing for nothing. We paid into a pension fund the same as other citizens who worked for a company that also had a pension plan. Further, while we were employed we paid, and are still paying, for our supplemental health insurance.

It is my hope that legislators who genuinely care about people read and take action.

MARY STRAUSS

Youngstown

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