NEA Campaigns to Strengthen Social Security

By Sara Robertson

The National Education Association has joined a campaign to protect and strengthen Social Security, joining 60 national and state labor and other organizations, including the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, National Organization of Women, NAACP, SEIU, Alliance for Retired Americans, and Moveon.org.

Those groups came together last week at the National Press Club to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Social Security and to launch the Strengthen Social Security campaign.

NEA is especially concerned about how cuts to Social Security would affect women, as women make up the vast majority of the teachers and school support professionals. More than half of Social Security beneficiaries at age 65 are women, and by age 85, women account for 71 percent of those receiving benefits. 

Anything that weakens Social Security is especially bad for educators and even more so for women, said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.

“We have workers who have paid into the system all of their working lives, and to deny them what they deserve is simply wrong,” Van Roekel said. “We oppose any cuts to Social Security benefits. We oppose any efforts to privatize Social Security. We oppose raising the retirement age, which would hit educators hard.”

Educators, who often enter the classroom right out of college, must already work up to 45 years in their profession before they qualify for unreduced Social Security benefits. Increasing the retirement age would be a hardship for those who may not be able to handle the rigors of teaching in their later years. (Learn more about NEA’s fight for fair Social Security provisions at nea.org.)

NEA also strongly supports complete repeal of the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), which penalize some public employees by cutting or eliminating Social Security benefits that they or their spouse have earned.

“We cannot keep subjecting our retirees to the GPO and WEP,” Van Roekel said. “These offsets are a double whammy. They are unfair and devastating.”

The Strengthen Social Security coalition, which represents more than 30 million Americans, says Social Security represents the best of American values — reward for hard work, honoring our parents and caring for our neighbors.

“Social Security is money that American workers paid into the system to support themselves when they reached retirement age,” Van Roekel added. “That money belongs to them, not providing it to them when they need it is wrong. We are urging all of our members to work hard to protect Social Security for all Americans.”