111TH CONGRESS (2009-2010) & LAUNCH LEGISLATIVE ACTION ASAP!

APWU OF FLORIDA STATE RETIREE CHAPTER

CONGRESS & LEGISLATIVE: (LINK E)

CONTACT YOUR CONGRESS & LEGISLATORS
FOR SUPPORT ON YOUR ISSUES!

WRITE LETTERS FAX PHONE E-MAIL

www.thomas.loc.gov U. S. Congressional Legislative Bills

www.citizen.org/congress U. S. Congress Watch Advocacy Issues

www.house.gov U. S. House of Representatives

www.senate.gov U. S. Senate

www.whitehouse.gov President of the United States

www.myfloridahouse.com Florida House of Representatives

www.flsenate.gov Florida Senate

www.myflorida.com Florida Governor

www.leg.state.fl.us Florida Legislature Sunshine Online

PRIORITY LEGISLATION AND LEGISLATIVE FACT SHEETS!

1. HEALTH INSURANCE PREMIUM PRE-TAX CONVERSION

H.R. 1203, a bill was
introduced in the 111th Congress on February 25, 2009, by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Jim Moran (D-VA), and Frank Wolf (D-VA) to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow federal civilian and military retirees to pay health insurance premiums on a pre-tax basis. It has twenty (20) co-sponsors and was referred to Committee on Ways and Means, and the bill if adopted could save you $350.00-$400.00 year for federal retirees.

S 491, a bill entitled "Federal and Military Retiree Care Equity Act" was introduced in the 111th Congress by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) on Feb. 26, 2009 to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow federal civilian and military retirees to pay health insurance premiums on a pre-tax basis. The bill has thirteen (13) co-sponsors upon introduction in the Congress. If signed into law, the measure would change Section 123 of the Internal Revenue Code and grant retired federal workers a benefit that is also available to active federal workers, many state and local government employees, as well as many workers in the private sector.
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We urge all APWU members, Retirees, and Auxiliary members to contact your Congressional Representatives and ask them to Co-sponsor and support this very important bill which will put extra money in your pocket. Active federal and postal employees already enjoy these savings.

2. REPEAL OF GOVERNMENT PENSION OFFSET (GPO)
AND WINDFALL ELIMINATION PROVISIONS (WEP)

H. R. 835, a bill entitled "Social Security Fairness Act of 2009" was introduced in the 111th Congress on January 7, 2009 by Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-CA-28), to amend Title II of the Social Security Act to repeal the Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provisions. It was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), on Jan. 7, 2009, and it has 207 House Co-sponsors. We believe it has a good chance of getting out of committee to the House floor for debate this time around.
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Rep. Berman and Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-CA-25), the lead sponsor of repeal legislation in the 107th, 108th, 109th, 110th and 111th Congresses, issued a joint press release stating, "these two provisions must be completely repealed so that our nation's most dedicated public servants can receive, in full, the Social Security benefits that they have rightfully earned throughout the course of their careers."
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We urge all APWU members, Retirees, and Auxiliary members to contact your Congressional Representatives and ask them to Co-sponsor and support this crucial bill to create fairness and equity. This legislation is supported not just by APWU, but also by many other organizations representing public sector employees, who include teachers; police; firefighters; and local, state, and county employees.
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S. 484, an identical, bipartisan bill was introduced on February 25, 2009 by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), to amend Title II of the Social Security Act to repeal the Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provisions. It was referred to Committee on Finance on February 25, 2009, and it has fifteen (15) co-sponsors. That committee oversees Social Security issues in the Senate.
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The legislation was accompanied by three original cosponsors, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). Senators Feinstein and Collins jointly issued a press release in which Feinstein asserted, "It's time to give our nation's public servants the full retirement benefits they have earned and deserve."
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Senator Collins added, "the WEP and GPO have enormous financial implications not just for federal employees, but for our teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other public employees. Despite their challenging, difficult, and sometimes dangerous jobs, these invaluable public servants often receive far lower salaries than private sector employees. It is therefore doubly unfair to penalize them when it comes to their Social Security benefits."
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We urge all APWU members, Retirees, and Auxiliary members to contact your Senators in the Congress and ask them to Co-sponsor and support this bill which is entitled “Social Security Fairness Act of 2009.”

LEGISLATIVE FACT SHEETS:

GOVERNMENT PENSION OFFSET:

The Government Pension Offset (GPO) was enacted in 1977 by Congress to treat government pensions (such as Civil Service Retirement) and survivor annuities as if they were Social Security benefits. In 1983 Congress changed the offset to its current two-thirds offset.

The Government Pension Offset (GPO) can affect any retiree who receives a civil service pension and Social Security, but primarily affects widows or widowers eligible for spousal benefits. Women, who typically spend less time in the workforce, and earn lower wages when they do, have been disproportionately affected by the Government Pension Offset.

They do not affect retirees who receive private pensions and Social Security. To explain how the current law works, we will take the example of a widow eligible for civil service pension benefits of $600.00 per month and Social Security spousal benefits of $600.00 per month, for a total of $1200.00 per month.

Under the Government Pension Offset (WEP) provisions, the Social Security spousal benefit is reduced by two-thirds of the civil service pension benefit. In this case, the original $600.00 Social Security benefit is reduced to $200.00 leaving the widow with a total monthly income of only $800.00 instead of $1200.00. This is an injustice which only the Congress can rectify.


WINDFALL ELIMINATION PROVISION (WEP):

The Windfall Elimination Provision affects how your retirement or disability benefits are figured if you receive a pension from work not covered by Social Security, i.e. the Civil Service Retirement System.

For employees who receive a pension and who are also eligible for Social Security benefits based on their own employment record, a different formula may be used to compute their Social Security benefit. This formula will result in a lower benefit. The “Windfall Elimination Provision” affects workers who reach age 62 or become disabled after 1985 and are first eligible after 1985 for a postal/federal pension.

Social Security benefits replace a percentage of a worker’s pre-retirement earnings. The formula used to compute benefits includes factors that ensure lower-paid workers get a higher return than highly paid workers. For example, lower-paid workers could get a Social Security benefit that equals about 60 percent of their pre-retirement earnings. The average replacement rate for highly paid workers is about 25 percent.

Before 1983, benefits for people who spent time in jobs not covered by Social Security were computed as if they were long-term low-wage workers. The received the advantage of the higher percentage benefits in addition to their other pension. The modified formula eliminates this windfall.

The Windfall Elimination Provision does not apply if: The employee was eligible to retire from postal/federal service before January 1, 1986; or the employee was first employed by the Postal Service/Federal Government after December 31, 1983; or the employee has thirty (30) years or more of substantial earnings under Social Security.

Employees and Retirees should contact their local Social Security office to determine the effect of the WEP on their Social Security benefits before they retire, and then contact a private attorney who is familiar with the Social Security and other federal laws before they retire to ensure maximum family benefits.
Jack Gose, Retiree

FLARA LEGISLATIVE CONFERENCE IN TALLAHASSEE, FL MAR 18-20, 2009 ANNOUNCED BY PRESIDENT TONY FRANSETTA

BREAKING 21ST CENTURY RETIREE PARADISE NEWS:
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TO: All FLARA Executive Board Members, Club & Individual Members & Invited Guests.
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FROM: Tony Fransetta, President-FLARA
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RE: FLARA's Legislative Conference and Quarterly Board Meeting CALL LETTER.
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Greetings: The Florida Alliance for Retired Americans will hold its Legislative Conference and Quarterly Executive Board Meeting on March 19th and 20th, 2009 at the "Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites", located at 2725 Graves Road, Tallahassee, Florida 32303. We ask that you arrive on Wednesday, March 18th, 2009 and check in at the hotel. Our meeting will begin Thursday, March 19th from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., with a break for lunch (provided by FLARA).
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We will meet again on Friday, March 20th, at 9:00 a.m. with a break for lunch (provided by FLARA) from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. We will re-convene at 1:00 p.m. for legislative reports and any unfinished business. This is a tentative schedule with the possibility of change.
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The hotel room rates are as follows for FLARA members and guests:
Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites, $ 129.00/night plus tax; 850-536-2000.
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Comfort Inn, $ 85.00/night plus tax, includes continental breakfast; 850-562-7200.
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Days Inn - Tallahassee Northwest, $ 49.00/night plus tax (Full bed); $ 65.00 (Double bed or King bed) includes continental breakfast; 850-562-2000.
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Please note that the above three hotels are located on one property connected by a common parking lot.
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Please remember that there are a limited number of rooms available per rate/hotel and the cutoff date for room reservations is February 24, 2009, so please make your reservations ASAP. When making your reservations, please call the hotel direct at the number listed above and ask for the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans group code.
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Registration fee for the Legislative Conference is $80.00 per member. Guest registration is $60.00. Registration forms and fees must be received by FLARA by March 1st, 2009 to process your credentials! If you have any questions, please contact the FLARA office at 561-792-8799.
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Sincerely,
Tony Fransetta, President
Yvonne Garrity, Executive Director

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