GSC April 2023 Newsletter

EDITION 13 April 2023



Chair's Corner

Let’s help all DA members be aware of the Windfall Elimination Provision

This month I want to again focus on WEP because it may affect you now or in the future as we have found out through our Seniors Caucus work over this past year. 

The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), is a statutory provision in U.S. law that affects benefits paid by the Social Security Administration, which was signed into law in April 1983. The WEP was meant to eliminate the advantage some workers used to receive from overlapping full-retirement pensions supplemented by partial Social Security-covered employment. See our WEP FAQs page for a more detailed explanation. 

As a direct result of WEP, many retired Americans who live or once lived abroad, and who have paid into Social Security do not receive their full benefits or fair share of them from Social Security when they retire. Also, some beneficiaries only learn of WEP after they have retired, and the reduced benefits substantially affect their family’s financial standing in later years. (See Brendan Read’s post in the Legislation section below for more information).

  1. We are asking all of our members to participate in getting rid of WEP. Please click on this link Call to Action - Repeal WEP Now! to learn how to contact your Congresspersons.
    The Seniors Caucus is making a significant push this year to get rid of WEP, and we cannot do it without you. WEP doesn’t just affect Seniors - it affects their families too. So please share the link with friends and family members back home, in Democrats Abroad, and all of your social channels. Thanks! 
  2. There is a hint of hope. Senate bill S.597 to amend Title II of the Social Security Act to Repeal the Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provisions, has been introduced by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). To date it has 33 co-sponsors. Our Call to Action above will help push this bill and HR.82 to a vote in both chambers.
  3. On April 1st from 10.30 am – 12.00 pm Eastern time we are having a global webinar WEP and Americans Abroad - How To Stop It Hurting Retirement Plans with Nancy Altman, an expert from Social Security Works. We are hoping to draw a large DA crowd. Remember even if you are not yet retired you should know about the effects of WEP on your retirement plans abroad. Please attend this global event and ask questions, whatever age you are. RSVP to join the discussion.
  4. Do you have a WEP story? If you have been impacted by WEP and want to tell your WEP story, let us know. You can send us an email. We would then ask your permission to share it on our social media and web pages.

— Betsy Ettorre, Chair of the Seniors Caucus 



from the Editor…

U.S. President Jimmy Carter 

Sadly, the former President, after a series of short hospital stays, decided to spend his remaining time at home with his family and receive hospice care instead of additional medical intervention. He has our full support and that of his family and his medical team. The Carter family asks for privacy during this time and is grateful for the concern shown by his many admirers.

If you’ve not see the documentary “Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President”, now is the perfect time to see it - you can even watch the full movie at home

To honor him and to celebrate Women’s History Month, watch President Carters Ted Talk: “Why I believe the mistreatment of women is the number one human rights abuse.” 


Be like Jimmy! Here are some actions that you can take:

Coffee Chat on Friday, 31 March

Everyone is invited to join our monthly discussions

7- 11 June: Democrats Abroad Annual Global Meeting & Door Knock

Each year DA leaders travel to Washington DC to discuss the functioning of DA, and to meet with members of Congress to discuss our issues. Before they go, they meet to approve DA’s Delegate Selection Plan, which will be the guiding document as we play our part in nominating our Party's 2024 nominees for President and Vice President of the United States. You can review a copy of the plan, and submit comments.  The meeting is open to all DA members

Petition to the AARP

Sign the Petition to ask the AARP to help us get rid of WEP/GPO once and for all!

The Equal Rights Amendment - a history

Introduced in Congress in 1923, the Equal Rights Amendment has yet to become written into the Constitution of the United States. The Global Women’s Caucus ERA team is working to ensure that women’s rights are finally enshrined in the supreme law of our land.

Medicare and Americans Abroad

If you missed last month’s GSC event, you can watch it on DA’s YouTube channel. In this webinar we learned how Medicare programs and your decisions about them can significantly impact your future financial and insurance coverage situation. These decisions are important for all Americans overseas – whether you plan to stay abroad or move back to the U.S. It’s never too soon to start planning for your retirement.

Tax Webinar Series

Tax season is coming soon. There is so much more to know when filing and paying taxes from outside of the U.S.
To help you prepare, you can watch DA’s TTF webinar on the DA YouTube channel. To keep yourself informed, you can sign up for TTF updates on the Taxation Task Force website. 


Do you like our work?

Please consider making a donation to Democrats Abroad, or buying merch from our store. It all goes to helping DA Get Out The Vote for American expats. 

— Lauren Hakulinen, Editor 




Global Climate Active

A new organization called Third Act is organizing people over age 60 to become active in the fight to safeguard democracy and address the climate crisis. In 2022, thousands of volunteer members worked to turn out voters in the November midterm election, helping to blunt the expected Republican “Red wave,” along with the better-than-expected turnout of young people. Now the group’s focus has turned to the nation’s big banks that are funding fossil fuel projects to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.

Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus spoke with Bill McKibben, writer, activist and co-founder of the global climate organization, who founded Third Act in 2021.

Listen to the Podcast -- Sign up for future talks -- Take Action Now.  

More Guns

Watch an Interview with Oklahoma State Sen. Nathan Dahm as he tries to defend gun “safety” with more guns on The Problem with Jon Stewart.

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — A large crowd gathered on the lawn at the Michigan capital for a protest against gun violence in the wake of February's deadly shooting at Michigan State University. The rally featured speakers in Michigan State University clothing, singers, and David Hogg showed up. 

Fox News being sued, again

Can’t keep up with the lawsuits? Here’s what’s happening.

First, Dominion Voting Systems sued Fox due to “blatant lies in support of Trump’s stolen election conspiracy theory.” Now Smartmatic (voting systems) has brought its own defamation lawsuit. As Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Corporation battles to contain the Dominion lawsuit scandal that has engulfed its top executives and stars, another crisis is building in the wings that has the potential to cause further turbulence for the media empire.

Smartmatic claims that more than 100 false statements were broadcast by Fox News hosts and guests. Smartmatic was falsely said to have been involved in 2020 election counts in six battleground states – in fact, it was present only at the count in Los Angeles county. Smartmatic’s suit appears to be the more dangerous. It’s demanding damages of $2.7bn, compared with Dominion’s $1.6bn.

The GOP wants to control who gets to vote, and freedom of the press

Late last fall, West Virginia Public Broadcasting's Amelia Ferrell Knisely reported one story after another about allegations that people with disabilities were abused in facilities run by the state.

Late last fall, West Virginia Public Broadcasting's Amelia Ferrell Knisely reported one story after another about allegations that people with disabilities were abused in facilities run by the state.

The state agency Knisely was covering demanded that one of her key stories be fully retracted. While her coverage remains on West Virginia Public Broadcasting's website, Knisely is gone. She says she was told the decision came from the station's chief executive. Read the article.



Our Steering Committee has been hard at work to bring more information to you about what’s happening in Washington DC. We’ve added a Legislation page to our website starting with Medicare and a short list of bills that affect Seniors. We will be adding to the list soon, and will update you as this work progresses. Thanks go to Melanie Gardner for taking this initiative. 

WEP+GPO Repeal Bills Reintroduced

by Brendan Read, Chair, Seniors Caucus WEP Committee

Legislation has been brought back into the House and Senate that would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO). H.R. 82 - Social Security Fairness Act of 2023 and its companion bill, S. 597, aim to restore Social Security benefits that rightfully belong to those workers and their deceased loved ones who paid Social Security taxes. 

Why Recall is Vital

The WEP and GPO together have the effect of unfairly and substantially reducing the retirement benefits of many Americans abroad and at home, notably federal government workers/spouses, first responders, and teachers. Moreover, these rules could also lower the eligible Social Security benefits of many foreign nationals and their spouses who worked in the U.S. and/or in their home countries, including dual citizens. 

For this reason, Democrats Abroad is asking our retired members and most critically those who are working and now planning for their future to contact their Representatives and Senators to ask them to co-sponsor these bills. 

Political Debate on the Future of Social Security

There is strong bipartisan support for WEP+GPO repeal this year. The National WEP & GPO Repeal Movement has been seeking repeal, and has been tracking and reporting developments - They are very active on Facebook and can be found here. But whether this legislation will make it to the House and Senate floors for votes, let alone to President Biden for his signature, remains to be seen.

While the numbers of H.R. 82 and S. 597 sponsors are large and growing, concerns have been  raised by many in Congress about the impact of repeal on Social Security finances. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported that eliminating WEP would cost $107 billion, and likewise for the GPO at $88 billion over 10 years. 

Leading repeal advocates note that eliminating WEP/GPO would only push back the expected Social Security trust fund depletion date, now estimated by the CBO at 2032 - by 1 year. Both parties are proposing different formulas to stabilize Social Security finances. 

The Democratic party clearly sees Social Security as a winnable issue given past GOP statements proposing to sunset Social Security and Medicare unless approved by Congress. Some Democrats have proposed raising the payroll tax (FICA) cap on Social Security dedications. 

Expect more developments in the coming weeks. We’ll have more on Social Security in our next Newsletter. 

Our Benefits Rolled Back? 

More to the point is the here and now of the unexpected financial impacts of the WEP and GPO clawbacks on middle-class American retirees—present and future—both at home and abroad, who have paid into Social Security, and who paid their taxes. 

With rising living costs every dollar counts. Employers are ditching private pensions, substituting them with 401(k) plans that too often are too expensive to participate in. And with rising costs and stagnant wages shrinking savings, Social Security has become the only retirement income for more and more Americans.

That is why WEP+GPO repeal is important! EVERY call, email, and vote counts. 

Please click here to contact your Congressperson and Senator today



Although this is an “off” voting year, local and state elections for mayors, council members, and more are going on. 

Although this is an “off” voting year, local and state elections for mayors, council members, and more are going on. 

So we thought we’d take a look at how voting can be improved. There is so much to cover. We’ll start with Ranked Choice Voting.

RCV is straightforward: Voters have the option to rank candidates in order of preference: first, second, third and so forth. 

It certainly worked well last year in Alaska, as Democrat Mary Peltola beat Sarah Palin for Alaska’s only House seat. EXPLAINER: How ranked choice voting works in Alaska.

Based on Alaska’s big win, more states are pushing for RCV. “Advocates of ranked choice voting have long said the setup benefits moderate candidates who don’t play to either party’s fringe and work instead to appeal to the broadest number of people.” 

Would you like to know how your U.S. Senator and U.S. Representative voted on key retirement security issues? Find it here



A recently published study from the University of Minnesota, “The power of data is showing researchers what older LGBTQ+ Americans actually need,“ is the third in a decennial series first undertaken in 2002. It is an essential and fascinating look at the needs of LGBTQ+ older Americans, including the wave of Baby Boomers now entering retirement and the Silent Generation that preceded them. Read the article on Facebook or on MSN.

Driving While Elderly

Have you had difficulty renting a car while traveling abroad? We have too, now that we’ve turned the page on 65. 

Are you an older driver? If not, you probably know one — a parent, grandparent or neighbor down the street. Between 2011 and 2020, the U.S. population of people 65 and older increased by 35%, and in 2020 the number of people 65 and older killed in traffic crashes made up 17% of all traffic fatalities.

During Older Driver Safety Awareness Week (December 5–9, 2022), we reminded you that simply getting older doesn’t mean it's time to hang up your keys, but you should evaluate how you — or your loved ones — drive. 

Read Keeping Our Older Drivers Safe on the Road



Quick Links

Monday, March 27: ProDA Monthly Monday for Progressive Minds 

How can we tackle wealth inequality effectively in the United States? Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Alex Lawson of Social Security Works have agreed to speak at this event, so it’s one you won’t want to miss! RSVP early to put it on your calendar - with reminders! 

The event is co-sponsored by the Seniors Caucus and the Youth Caucus. 

Fridays - 31 March and 28 April

Don’t miss our Seniors and Disability Caucus monthly chats from 9 to 10:30 am Eastern Time (US & Canada). Everyone is very welcome! RSVP to get the Zoom link, and add it to your calendar.

Saturday 1 April: WEP and Americans Abroad - How to Stop it Hurting Retirement Plans

RSVP for our Global Event with Nancy Altman, an expert from Social Security Works. We are hoping to draw a large DA crowd. 

Even if you are not yet retired, you should know about the effects of WEP on your retirement plans abroad. Please attend this global event, and ask questions, whatever age you are. 



Volunteers are the backbone of our organization.

  • The Global Seniors Caucus is looking for someone who loves to post on Twitter. Visit our website for details on our volunteer opportunities.
  • The Global Black Caucus is searching to fill more positions. Get in touch here.
  • The Global Communications Team is also looking for volunteers as they ramp up for the 2024 election! Do you have a communications background? Are you interested in helping? If so, please fill out the Global Communications Team Interest Form.


Final Thoughts - Highlighting Women

“Ladies, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are past your prime…”, said 60-year-old Michelle Yeoh during her Oscar acceptance speech. 

Rita Moreno turned 91! And she can dance! Jane Fonda, Sally Fields, Lily Tomlin and Rita Moreno share how they met, and stories about the fun they’ve had working together. 

If you like our work, please consider making a donation to Democrats Abroad. 

Need some merch? Get it here

It all goes to helping us Get Out The Vote for American expats. 

Thanks to Brendan Read and Karen Lee
for their contributions to this month’s newsletter!

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