Public Workers Face Retirement Woes

Social security CBS/AP

At 63, former firefighter Wayne Stoudt can't retire now.

"The fact that I have to go back and do it is wrong," he said.

Instead he's scraping by with odd jobs to make up for the Social Security payments he's not getting after all.

"When you retired, you expected to get a certain amount of money?" asked CBS News Correspondent Mika Brzezinski.

"Right."

"Did you get that amount?"

"No, I didn't," he replied.

Why? A little known, complex law has cost Stoudt a lot. Because he was a public worker getting a pension on his fireman's salary, Stoudt's Social Security from other jobs was reduced by 50 percent.

To Stoudt's surprise, instead of $600 a month, he got $294.

Stoudt is part of an increasingly vocal grassroots campaign to repeal the law that was designed to keep highly paid people from "double dipping."

"It's not double dipping, it's called double working!" exclaimed Stoudt at a meeting of others in the same benefit boat.

It would take Congress to repeal the law, and Thursday, the group got what it wanted. their first hearing before a congressional committee

"I think we have a moral obligation to make some changes here," said Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.

But not according to the Social Security Administration, which wants the current law to stay in place. They also delivered the shocker of the day, saying many retirees are being overlooked and should be targeted by the offset law and have their benefits reduced as well.

Lawmakers had even worse luck trying to get answers from the administration.

"What's the administration's position? What's your position?" asked Rep. Robert Matsui, D-Calif.

"We don't have an administration position," said Robert Wilson, Social Security's Deputy Commissioner for Legislation and Congressional Affairs.

But Congress is working on several proposals to help retirees like Wayne Stoudt get their full benefits back.

"Is this how you envisioned your retirement?" asked Brzezinski.

"No, not really," said Stoudt. "I hope that someday I'll retire, kick back and be with the grandkids."

When will that happen?

"I hope in the near future."

It's all because people like Wayne Stoudt — teachers, firefighters, police — chose to serve the public.
  • Lloyd Vries

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