The Roundup -

Social Security's Windfall Elimination Provision Cheats People of Full Benefits


Who ever heard of the Windfall Elimination Provision of Social Security? I certainly hadn’t, until I applied for my social security benefits in March. Then I became painfully aware of this grossly unfair Provision, passed in 1983 by Congress, that to my mind steals money from those of us who have worked and qualify for certain targeted pensions other than social security and who have also worked and qualify for social security itself. At the same time it rewards bad behavior as it allows for the payment of benefits to those who have NOT worked and earned enough to qualify for social security.

It seems that if a person has enough ambition to work and earn a pension while in another country (by the way, there are certain targeted US pensions that also fall under this so called ‘Windfall’ Elimination Provision) then the Social Security Administration has the right to REDUCE the US social security pension based on the amount a person receives from these other specifically targeted pensions, regardless of the fact that those of us involved worked, paid the required social security tax each month, and qualified for an amount based on our earnings through the years.

Allow me to provide some background information. Back when I was young and foolish, I married a Canadian and lived in Canada for twenty plus years. While in Canada, I worked and earned enough credits to qualify for a small Canada pension. After my marriage dissolved, I moved back to Montana where I continued to support myself through work, and in the process I earned enough credits to qualify for a small US Social Security pension as well. At age 65 I applied for my Canada pension and received it.

I turned sixty-six in April. Two months prior to my sixty-sixth birthday I sent in my social security application, to begin in May. One of the questions on the application asked if I received any other pension, and if so, what kind, so I answered that question by saying that yes, I received a small pension from Canada. A worthy worker for the social security administration phoned me to inquire about my Canada pension, asking intrusive questions that in my opinion really were none of Social Security’s business. Either I worked enough to qualify for a US social security pension, or I did not. If I did, then that pension should be paid in its entirety, not reduced because I had enough gumption to work and look after myself throughout my adult life. What difference does it make if I also earned enough credits to qualify for another pension? I should be rewarded for my industry, not punished.

However, it seems that was not how our distinguished, honest Congressmen back in 1983 felt about the matter. In their wisdom they decided that if people worked for and earned enough credits to qualify for certain pensions other than social security, (not all pensions, of course, it sounds like Federal workers are exempt, surprise surprise) they ought not to receive their full Social Security that they worked for and earned, but instead be penalized for their diligence. Congress therefore passed a Windfall Elimination Provision, designed to rob people of their earned credits. The provision legalizes theft; as Social Security can legally reduce my pension based on the amount of other pensions I happen to have worked for and earned throughout my adult life. Because I had enough gumption to earn a living for myself in two different countries, and in the process build up enough credits to qualify for a government retirement pension in both countries, I will be punished for working elsewhere and my US social security will be reduced accordingly.

To add insult to injury, this same Windfall Elimination Provision that penalizes me for working and earning credits towards a retirement pension, rewards those who have not worked and earned enough to qualify for social security. Had I NOT worked enough in Canada to qualify for a pension, and then I moved back to Montana and NOT worked enough to qualify for social security benefits in the US, then in its infinite wisdom, Congress decreed that the Windfall Elimination Provision would allow the Social Security Administration to take the credits from Canada, add them to the credits earned in the US, and GIVE a pension to the recipient who did NOT work enough to qualify for a pension in either country. Fair? Moral? Honest? Ethical? What in Heaven’s name was Congress thinking?? This criminal injustice needs to be addressed, the law needs to be repealed, and those of us who have worked and earned a living and supported ourselves our entire adult lives must NOT be penalized and punished for our efforts.

According to Webster, ‘windfall’ means “an unexpected piece of good luck.” Tell me, how is working and earning a living an ‘unexpected piece of good luck’?? Has this country fallen so low that when people work, it is considered an unexpected piece of good luck so we need to be penalized and punished and see our social security reduced because we had the nerve to support ourselves instead of expecting a handout from the government????

I can’t understand why ANY other earned pension should count against social security. Why should that have any bearing at all on the benefits I receive from social security? It should not. I paid the required social security tax through my work, and my employers had to match that payment on my behalf, yet the law allows the Social Security Administration to rob me by reducing my benefit amount just because I also worked and earned enough credits to qualify for a pension other than social security.. How ridiculous, and how unethical.

Neither pension is very large, I certainly can’t live on both of them combined and will have to continue to work, which in turn means I continue to pay into social security, and of course pay taxes on every cent I earn. My Canadian pension was earned in Canadian dollars, so I lose approximately 20% of that amount just in the exchange rate. Now I find out I will lose approximately 30% of my US Social Security because I had the audacity to take care of myself and to earn a living on my own initiative. In spite of low pension amounts I receive from both countries, Social Security deems it necessary to reduce my US social security benefits even further because I had the gall to work and look after myself..

What a slap in the face to people who have worked to support themselves, yet at social security time can’t receive those full benefits they paid for and earned.

Canada pays the amount I qualified for, based on my earnings while living in that country. Canada understands that if a person worked for and earned a pension, then it should be paid accordingly. They never ask, and they don’t care, whether or not I have enough credits to qualify for social security in the US. Unlike the US government, Canada does not penalize me for trying to pay my own way. They allot my pension based on what I qualify for.

Our Congressmen and women must address this legalized crime. It affects a lot of people who have worked hard all their lives and who as they reach the age when they can no longer put in a full day of work, find they will be punished for their work ethic.


Reader Comments

Neil writes:

While WEP will reduce your SS because of other income it doesn't stop there. You will find that your other pension is taxed completely based on your income while the SS income you didn't get would have been taxed at 85% at the most.


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