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Over 200,000 Ohioans don't get full Social Security benefits; bill aims to help


According to the Congressional Research Service, nearly three million retired public servants in the U.S don’t get full social security benefits. This is due to withholding provisions in the Social Security Act.

The Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset reduce social security benefits for retired public servants and their spouses. Over 200,000 Ohioans are affected by these laws.

Rita Lewis, from Butler County, worked 20 years as a public servant at the West Chester Police Department. Prior to working for the police department, Lewis had ten years paying into Social Security, working in the private sector.

“Come to find out that the ten years that I came to Social Security in the private sector do not count,” Lewis said. “It's an antiquated, discriminatory, punitive legislation.”

Lewis said she also lost over 60% of her husband’s social security benefits.

“We want what our husbands paid into Social Security. We lose that financial security that they thought was going to be here for us because they paid into it,” she explained.

In February, U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) reintroduced the Social Security Fairness Act. They said this legislation would repeal the withholding provisions, so public servants get full benefits.

“We want to restore the law to what I think the intent was all along to take care of people that paid into a legitimate pension system,” Brown stated.

The bill was first introduced in 2021.

Ngozi Cole is the Business and Economics Reporter for WYSO. She graduated with honors from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in New York and is a 2022 Pulitzer Center Post-Graduate Reporting Fellow. Ngozi is from Freetown, Sierra Leone.