CARMEL, IN – As more people are reaching retirement age year after year, concerns about Social Security (SS) benefits are on the rise. Understanding SS retirement benefits and rules can help individuals and their families avoid unnecessary issues in the future. The benefits received from SS are a percentage of the income an individual earned while working and paying into the system. The percentage is higher for lower wage earners (usually around 60%) than it is for higher wage earners (about 25%), but there are instances when an individual has worked abroad or in a job not covered by SS, workers for state and local governments, for example, who may appear to be lower wage earners though they may receive foreign social security benefits in addition to U.S. benefits.
To avoid paying out a higher percentage in benefits than necessary to those individuals, Congress passed the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). In such cases, the individual receiving foreign social security benefits could find their SS benefits reduced by as much as half. The decrease in benefits could make it difficult for retired people to make ends meet as prices for even the most basic necessities continue to increase while wages have stayed about the same for the last twenty years.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) reduces the retirement benefits of many people who receive Greek and other foreign social security pensions by means of the WEP, many people who have divided their working careers between two countries are not allowed to receive the full amount of pensions that they have earned. In many cases, the law office of Jonathan Bruce, LLC, and Frost Brown Todd, LLC believe this reduction is unlawful, and are engaged in litigation to put an end to it. Organizations including the National Education Association are also lobbying to put an end to the WEP which as noted on their website, “causes hard-working people to lose a significant portion of the benefits they earned themselves.”
Bruce and Todd seek to help people whose SS benefits have been reduced because of the WEP. They charge no consultation fees, and do not charge for their services until they win a case. When they do win a case, their legal fees are authorized by the court from past due benefits owed by the U.S. government. No client is ever sent a bill for legal services, and no retainer for legal services is ever required. Bruce reported, “A U.S.-Greece social security agreement was signed at Athens on June 22, 1993, and was entered into force on September 1, 1994. Paragraph (2)(a) of Article 3 of this international social security agreement states: ‘A person who is or has been subject to the laws of one Contracting State and who resides within the territory of the other Contracting State shall, together with his dependents, receive equal treatment with nationals of the other Contracting State in the application of its laws.’ Greece applies no law like the WEP to Americans living in Greece, and the application of the WEP to Greek immigrants is a violation of the international agreement and the WEP statute.” Bruce also noted that a Greek immigrant named Christos Georgiou was one of the first to challenge the WEP.
In addition to Greek pensioners in the United States or in Greece, the law firms of Bruce, and Frost Brown Todd are particularly interested in contacting people with social security pensions from France, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Japan, Korea, and other countries.