(This article first appeared in the November/December 2018 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
By Retirees Department Director Nancy Olumekor
There is still work we must do to protect our federal pension, benefits and the Postal Service on behalf of retirees. The Social Security Fairness Act (HR.1205 and S.915), along with the Social Security Expansion Act (S.427) are needed legislation. There are still millions of Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) annuitants watching and waiting for Congress to pass legislation to repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WPO) and Government Pension Offset (GPO) in order to provide us with a fair return on our investment in the Social Security system.
Many CSRS annuitants worked other jobs, second jobs and sometimes third jobs in order to increase their Social Security benefits. We worked and contributed to the Social Security system at the same percentage as other non-CSRS employees who contributed to Social Security yet we are denied an equitable benefit for those contributions.
I have included a few excerpts from the “Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security” by SocialSecurityWorks.Org on the subject “Strengthen Social Security…don’t cut it.”
- “For most Americans, Social Security is essential for retirement. Just over 3 in 5 seniors rely on Social Security benefits for most of their income.
- Americans have traditionally relied on the ‘threelegged stool’ – Social Security, employer pensions, and personal savings (including home equity) – to have sufficient income for retirement. For many, Social Security is the only stable leg of the ‘threelegged stool.’
- “Social Security’s revenue was about $957 billion in 2016 – 87 percent of which was from workers’ and employers’ contributions on wages up to $127,200 a year.
- “Social Security’s benefits are modest, but vital, averaging around $15,000 per year.
- “Social Security lifts 22.1 million Americans out of poverty. Without it, the poverty rate of our seniors would be nearly 41 percent; instead, it is just under 9 percent.
- “Social Security can never go bankrupt. Nearly all of its income, 97 percent, comes from the contributions of workers and employers, or interest on these contributions.
- “It is projected that even if Congress took no action, Social Security could pay 100 percent of promised benefits until at least 2034.”
We must continue to use our voices to let to Congress know we expect them to be committed to protecting our hard-earned benefits – our federal pension (CSRS or FERS [Federal Employees Retirement System]), Social Security, Medicare, health insurance and life insurance. We also expect them to protect and preserve the public Postal Service. Continue to write letters or postcards and call Capitol Hill at 1-202-224-3121, or use the APWU line 1-844-402-1001, to speak to your member of Congress. Remind them that these are our paramount issues as postal retirees, senior citizens and postal workers.
2019 CSRS and Social Secuity COLA Increase Largest in 7 Years
The 2019 cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) annuitants and Social Security benefits will be 2.8 percent. The 2019 COLA for those covered in the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) will be 2 percent.
Saying Thank You!
As we enter the season of gratitude and giving thanks I want to first thank all of all our Veterans and all of our active military personnel for their service. We also give thanks and share our blessings in other ways. Retirees can now make contributions to the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) using their annuity, credit card, or ACH from their bank account. Consider contributing to the Postal Employee Relief Fund (PERF) using Code 10268. Visit the CFC Donor Pledge System at https://cfcgiving.opm.gov/welcome for more information or to obtain forms and mail then directly to the CFC Processing Center address listed on the form, postmarked, no later than January 11, 2019. Direct your questions to CFC Customer Support at 800-797-0098.