Retirement Security

Restoring Equity and Fairness to the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO)

My testimony focuses on two key issues. First, I will explain how the current-law Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) is overly complex and unfair. Second, I will discuss how reforming the Social Security benefit formula would improve the simplicity and fairness of the WEP, while still maintaining the original public policy purpose. Additionally, though most of my testimony focuses on the WEP, a related provision, the Government Pension Offset (GPO), has similar complexity and fairness problems that should be addressed.

What the New York Times Isn't Telling You about Social Security

No politician on either side of the aisle reaps a political windfall from proposing to slow Social Security benefit growth. Responsible stewardship nevertheless requires that public pension plans such as Social Security only promise benefits that can be securely funded. Those who step forward with credible plans for correcting Social Security’s untenable cost growth trend are obeying the demands of responsibility, not ideology.

The Extent and Nature of State and Local Government Pension Problems and a Solution

A new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University examines both the overall financial condition of state and local pension plans and the legal impediments to pension reform. It argues that reform proposals that assume the federal government will bail out state and local pen- sions are politically and economically unworkable and unfair. Instead, it presents a two-pronged reform proposal: (1) require state and local authorities to disclose the financial condition of their pension plans to beneficiaries in plain language and using standardized conservative accounting assumptions, and (2) allow state and local governments to offer beneficiaries a choice between accepting the uncertain and risky future benefits originally promised or receiving a discounted lump-sum benefit right away.

Modernizing the SSDI Eligibility Criteria: Trends in Demographics and Labor Markets Affecting Workers in the “Grid”

Social Security Disability Insurance program outlays have increased rapidly, roughly doubling in real terms over the past fifteen years.Participation in program (as % of labor-force) has doubled over the past twenty years. Determining the cause of this rapid rate of growth is essential for setting the program on a sustainable, long-term responsible path.

Social Security Disability Insurance Isn’t Doing What It’s Supposed to Do

As I underscored in two recent charts, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is financially unsustainable, and to save it, policymakers need to rein in benefits, which have exploded in recent years. This week’s charts add two important points: first, that SSDI has turned into a quasi-unemployment program, and second, that the good intentions that prompt the creation of federal programs are not enough to prevent poor and costly outcomes.

Social Security Disability Insurance Program Is Financially Unsustainable

It will be tempting for policymakers to avoid the politically difficult decision to rein in benefits by a temporary fix, like raising payroll taxes or shifting “assets” from the regular Social Security trust fund to the DI component. These short-term fixes would worsen the Social Security system’s long-term structural imbalance, while inflicting damage on the US economy.

Illustrating Retirement Income for Defined Contribution Plan Participants: A Critical Analysis of the Department of Labor Proposal

A new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University is the first to rigorously assess the details of the proposed regulation using empirical methodology widely accepted in the financial industry and comparing the proposed illustration to the Social Security statement. The regulation would require all defined contribution plans to inform their participants of the life annuity income equivalents of the current and projected balances in their individual accounts. The study examines several changes the Department of Labor can make to improve its proposal.