Fair treatment for workers

By Rep. Bruce Poliquin

Recently, I sent a letter to every member of Congress who is not a co-sponsor of bills seeking to increase the fairness of the Social Security System. My message to them follows:

I have the honor of representing tens of thousands of hardworking and dedicated police officers, teachers, firefighters and other public servants in Maine’s 2nd District. These individuals commit to a career of selflessly serving others, and as the son of a nurse and a public school teacher myself, I understand firsthand the incredible dedication that task takes. That is why I firmly believe that all of our loyal public servants deserve to have the benefits and fair treatment that they have worked for and have earned.

Right now, that is not the case for so many Mainers and public servants. As you are aware, many public servants around the country and their loved ones are being painfully penalized by the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO), which prevent them from collecting their full Social Security benefits. Specifically, the WEP reduces a person’s earned Social Security benefit if they also receive a government pension from non-covered employment, while the GPO reduces one’s spousal or widow/widower Social Security benefits. This is simply unfair to our devoted public servants or their spouses who paid into Social Security.

Since becoming Maine’s 2nd District congressman, I have spoken to hundreds of Mainers, many of them seniors, who are hurt by the WEP or the GPO. Time and time again, I hear public servants who are so discouraged by the WEP and GPO they question their choice of profession, knowing the effects on their retirement. Many work far longer than they planned, putting their long-term health at risk, especially for those in physically demanding jobs like firefighting and law enforcement. This is not fair, and it is not right.

That is why I am a proud cosponsor of both H.R. 711, the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act of 2015, and H.R. 973, the Social Security Fairness Act of 2015, to fully repeal the WEP and the GPO. I am encouraged by the increasing number of cosponsors on these two important bills. Like me, they understand we, as members of Congress, have a responsibility to take care of our fellow Americans who keep our communities safe and who educate our children. This is why I am respectfully asking that you join me in cosponsoring and fully supporting these two important pieces of legislation so we can finally fix this problem in this 114th Congress.

Retired police officers in Maine and teachers in Texas aren’t looking for a handout. They are simply looking to collect the benefits that they are owed, that they were promised, and that they have earned. I hope you will join me in supporting these two bills as a cosponsor and showing these dedicated public servants across our country that we truly have their back.

Republican Bruce Poliquin represents Maine’s 2nd Congressional District.

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