SPOKANE CHAPTER 32 NEWSLETTER
Published Monthly except July and August
21 - 03 Advocates for Current and Former Federal Employees March 2021
PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE Scott Robinson
MESSAGE FROM STEVE ROY, WASHINGTON STATE FEDERATION PRESIDENT
ARE YOU A VICTIM OF THE UNFAIR WEP and GPO?
IF SO, WE WOULD LIKE TO HEAR YOUR PERSONAL Story. The WEP and GPO unfairly impacts thousands of Americans including federal retirees and hits them in the pocketbook. We would like to share your story with Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05). Here is the background on WEP and GPO, The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).
The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) reduces the Social Security benefits of local, state and federal retirees who worked in Social Security-covered employment (e.g., private-sector jobs) and who also receive a government annuity from their non-Social Security covered government employment. As of December 2019, the WEP affects 1,912,706 beneficiaries, including 1,797,415 retired workers, 12,943 workers with disabilities, and 102,348 spouses and children. In 2020, the WEP can result in a monthly benefit that is $480 lower than under the regular benefit formula. This unfair reduction causes a disproportionate reduction in benefits for workers with lower monthly benefit amounts than those with higher benefit amounts.
The WEP applies to federal retirees who began their federal employment prior to 1983 and are covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Under CSRS, federal employees pay a 7 percent payroll contribution toward their CSRS retirement annuities. They do not pay a 6.2 per-cent payroll tax toward Social Security, and therefore, do not earn any Social Security benefits based on their federal work. The WEP does not apply to federal employees covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), as these federal employees pay the 6.2 percent payroll tax, in addition to their FERS retirement contributions, and therefore earn Social Security benefits based on their government work.
The Government Pension Offset (GPO).
Legislation was enacted in 1977 to prevent government retirees from collecting both a government annuity based on their own work in non-Social Security covered employment and Social Security benefits based on their spouse’s work record. The new law became effective with government employees who were first eligible to retire in December 1982. The law known as the Social Security Government Pension Offset, or GPO provides that two-thirds of the government annuity offsets whatever Social Security bene-fits would be payable to the retired government worker as a spouse (wife, husband, widow, widower). Take the example of a spouse who receives a civil service annuity of $900 per month based on his/her own earnings and applies for a Social Security widow(er)’s benefit of $500. Two-thirds of his/her annuity, or $600, totally offsets the Social Security widow(er)’s benefit. Therefore, he/she receives no widow(er)’s benefit from Social Security.
As of December 2019, the GPO affects 707,879 beneficiaries. Of those affected by the GPO, 46 percent are widows or widowers, and 83 percent are women. In addition to Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) annuitants, the GPO affects thousands of state and municipal retirees, as well as teachers and police officers whose work is not covered by Social Security.
Please help us to inform Representative McMorris Rodgers about the impacts of WEP and GPO by providing us with your personal story. Our goal is to ask her to cosponsor legislation in the 117th Congress to repeal WPO and GPO.
DATES FOR YOUR CALENDAR
Due to the present health situation all Meetings are virtual until further notice.
To Join the Zoom Meeting, you can either:
Call: 1 – 253 – 215 - 8782
Meeting ID: 869 6851 3284, Passcode: 142288
Or you CLICK ON THIS LINK.
NARFE-PAC MaryAnn Bosky
You can contribute to NARFE-PAC contribution form in the NARFE magazine or by sending a check, made out to NARFE-PAC to our post office box. The address is: NARFE, PO Box 4592, Spokane, WA 99220.
The more members we have the more power to protect our benefits/retirement. We are speaking to all members not just those retired.
LEGISLATION Roger Bosky
As the new legislative session begins, Congress has proposed several bills favorable to employees and retirees. H.R. 352 would provide an average 3.2% pay raise for employees, H.R. 82 would eliminate some of the impacts the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Offset Provision (GPO) have on federal employees. NARFE has an extensive list of proposals in support of our earned benefits. They are included in the latest NARFE Magazine. NARFE is also doing a great job in providing all representatives with copies of our legislative agenda.
At our last meeting there was support for focusing our efforts on a couple of issues, Postal Reform, the WEP, and having our Congressional representative speak to us via zoom.
What I propose is to develop some brief talking points describing these issues and what we want. The talking points would provide a brief description of the issue (2-3 sentences) and then 2-3 sentences describing the impacted and asking for her support. We would then follow up by inviting our representative to a zoom meeting to discuss these and any other issues of import to her.
I believe that these steps will provide a sound basis for staying in touch with our representatives.
PROGRAM Chris Smith and Joanne Welch
Dr. Francisco Velazquez, interim Health Officer for Spokane Regional Health District, delivered an excellent presentation on the state of Covid vaccinations. The advice sounds familiar, but still so important: continue to wear a mask (double layer), wash your hands, and social distance… and get a Covid vaccination (any brand) as soon as you can. Once you’ve had the vaccine, continue to follow the same three tenets above for the protection of others.
In March, we will welcome Eric Johnson, 2021 President of the Spokane Association of Realtors. He will have the latest figures on Spokane county residential real estate as well as some info on how Covid and lower interest rates have affected the market. He’ll also cover downsizing, competing in a seller’s market, and choosing a realtor. Bring any questions you always wanted to ask a realtor who wasn’t listing your home. See you there!
VICE PRESIDENT Arlene Patton
Chapter 32-Spokane is holding steady with 311 Chapter members and 211 National only members for a total of 522 members. The challenge during this time of a pandemic is how to reach out and recruit new members. In past years we used the annual pre-retirement seminar and the Health Fairs as events for recruitment. Neither of those events happened in 2020 and are on hold at this time. Would love to hear from NARFE members to other recruitment opportunities.
We are looking for an energetic member willing to become the Membership Chairperson. Contact Scott Robinson if you are interested.
NARFE is more than just a great magazine. Let them know!
Promote NARFE anytime you can. The more members we have the more power to protect our benefits and retirement!
NARFE = YOUR BEST BET FOR THE FUTURE!
SUNSHINE Susan Harvey
Personally, I am counting the days to SPRING! I am ready for sunshine, Spring flowers, everyone who wants to be immunized against COVID-19 to get it, a quieting political scene, and so much more. In my life, I need a little more peace and pleasure, seeing more friends and not worrying about those I love becoming ill.
NARFE has not received notice of any deaths of our members. I recently heard about one member who has lost four friends recently to COVID-19. I am sure this is not the only person who has lost a loved one or a close friend. We are all still suffering from the evil we cannot see. Many blessings to all who have been enduring these losses.
Chapter 32 sends birthday and anniversary wishes to all who celebrate in March.
REMINDER, spouses can be members OR can take over the membership of a deceased member. If you are interested in continuing this very valuable membership, please contact Scott Robinson. He is currently recruiting for a Membership Chair. If you are interested, please contact him.
If you become aware of good news, illnesses, surgeries, or a death of a member or family member, please contact me.
ALZHEIMER’S Pat Hegerberg
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 5, 2021) — The early prognosis of high-risk older adults for amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), using non-invasive and sensitive neuromarkers, is key for early prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
A recent study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, by researchers at the University of Kentucky establishes what they believe is a new way to predict the risk years before a clinical diagnosis. Their work shows that direct measures of brain signatures during mental activity are more sensitive and accurate predictors of memory decline than current standard behavioral testing.
“Many studies have measured electrophysiological rhythms during resting and sleep to predict Alzheimer’s risk. This study demonstrates that better predictions of a person’s cognitive risk can be made when the brain is challenged with a task. Additionally, we learned that out of thousands of possible brain oscillation measures, left-frontal brainwaves during so-called working memory tasks are good predictors for dementia risk,” said lead investigator Yang Jiang, associate professor in the UK Department of Behavioral Sciences and an affiliated faculty member at the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging (SBCoA).
When looking for a specific car in a large parking lot, older persons increasingly make more mistakes and take more time than young people due to brain and cognitive aging. Jiang says it has already been reported that brain waves associated with that type of daily memory task differ in cognitively normal older people and those of patients with memory loss and dementia. For this new study, researchers followed healthy older adults for 10 years. They reported that a specific pattern of frontal brainwaves during an everyday memory task predicts a person’s risk of cognitive impairment roughly five years before clinical diagnosis. This pattern was not observed in older people who remained cognitively normal over the next 10 years.
Jiang says predicting and preventing cognitive decline is very important to allow preventive measures, such as lifestyle changes, and for researchers to help achieve a greater quality of life for the rapidly growing aging population. “Compared to current methods using neuroimaging as biomarkers, this method of measuring can be easily set up in clinics, is non-invasive, fast, and affordable. Also, reliably predicting the risk of cognitive decline in an individual is new. Our older participants will soon be able to have a better version of brainwave tests here at UK.”
The clinical and translation work of this study was a team science effort with multiple investigators from UK’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging serving as coauthors including Erin Abner, Richard Kryscio, Greg Jicha, Fred Schmitt, Charles Smith, and collaborators from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, University of Tennessee, and the Institute of Psychology, Beijing China.
This project was brought to SBCoA by scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory co-author Nancy Munro to David Wekstein and Drs. William Markesbery and Charles Smith nearly 15 years ago with funding from the Department of Energy. The research team received funding from NIH in recent years to expand this work in large-scale and diverse populations. Jiang says their longitudinal study underscores the importance of having a successful Alzheimer’s research center at UK.
Linda Van Eldik, director of the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, said, “This further emphasizes the long-standing national and international reputation of UK’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging and the high quality of our investigators and the research they do.”
Spokane Washington Chapter 32
PO Box 4592
Spokane, WA 99220
National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association 32