Social Security Does Not Work for Law Enforcement Officers

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 10, 1999 | Go to article overview

Social Security Does Not Work for Law Enforcement Officers


As the executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), I want to expand on your statement that state and local employee groups representing millions of teachers, law enforcement officials and other public employees are fighting a proposal on Capitol Hill to make their participation in the Social Security program mandatory ("Reforming Social Security," Editorial, Jan. 4).

While NAPO does indeed support the concept of Social Security as an important source of future retirement security for millions of Americans, we do not support forcing public-safety officers to pay into the system. Because of the special circumstances of their jobs, most state and local public-safety workers do not pay Social Security taxes and are not covered by the program.

Requiring Social Security taxes of the 76 percent of public-safety officers not covered (and also their replacements) would have a dramatic and negative impact on the recruitment and retention of well-qualified public-safety officers and their current pension funds. It would constitute an unfunded mandate on public-safety agencies, probably amounting to more than $1 billion in the first year alone. If mandatory Social Security becomes law, employees would each pay a 6.2 percent payroll tax, at minimum consisting of an automatic reduction of an officer's pay. Employers also would be required to match the 6.2 percent payroll tax. Since raising taxes would not be politically feasible, the question becomes: From where is the money going to come?

The answer is detrimental to public safety. For example, in some localities, laws require integration of Social Security benefits with current pension plans so that pension-plan benefits will be reduced by the same dollar amount received from Social Security. Also, newly imposed Social Security likely would cause many state and local governments to cut costs by reducing or eliminating the health care benefits provided to active and retired public-safety officers and their families. Many other agencies would reduce the number of public-safety officers in order to retain current pay and benefits. …

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Social Security Does Not Work for Law Enforcement Officers
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