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73-year-old grandmother forced to work after thousands are cut from her Social Security benefits

73-year-old grandmother still having to work after Social Security cuts her benefits by thousands
Posted at 5:11 PM, Feb 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-25 16:03:12-05

CLEVELAND — Today, (2/22/19) News 5 is dedicating experts and resources to you, answering your questions about Social Security. It's all part of our on-going investigation "Social Insecurity."

There have been questions about how Social Security affects your retirement. People like Nadine Long from Richfield should be retired, but she's forced to work after thousands of dollars are taken away by the Social Security Administration.

"I like children. So, I thought, well, the playground would be a good job for me,” said Long. That's how she started working for the Revere School District.

For nearly 20 years, she told us she paid into her school-related pension, but this is a woman who worked and paid into Social Security, too, from her very first job. “Well, I lied about my age so I could go to work,” said Long. “I went to work at 14 and they thought I was 16."

She qualifies for Social Security benefits, but because of the Windfall Elimination Provision that says if you get a pension from a government job, you get less of the Social Security benefits you've earned, she’s out of luck. "If it was up to the working people, a law like this would have never passed,” Long told us.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio has introduced a bill to repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset that also takes away benefits. "I want to fix the Windfall Provision because it's simply not a windfall,” said Brown in a recent News 5 interview.

Long can attest to that. Social Security cuts her benefits by about $12,000 a year. She told us she has to get help from her son and daughter-in-law who've moved in and help with the utilities. "There's no way I could live here. I don't think it's fair that the older people work all of their life and then they have to give their home up because they can't afford to live here,” said Long.

Those who support the Windfall and Pension Offset told us if those go away, then something else has to take their places to make up for the lost money.

We reached out multiple times to U.S. Senator Rob Portman from Ohio to see where he stands, only to be told he wasn't available and our further questions were ignored.
Update: After our story caught traction, we heard from Senator Portman's office: "Senator Portman believes Social Security is a critical program that must be protected and reformed so that it is around for future generations. He is the leader in the Senate on retirement security and believes proposals to reform WEP should be considered in the context of broader entitlement reform."
-Emily Benavides
Deputy Communications Director
Senator Rob Portman (R-OH)

"You got the power to get rid of this Windfall and give people back their money,” said Long when we asked what her message is to politicians.

"People in Congress that have pushed back against that are just wrong," said Senator Brown.

The Social Security cuts have affected Long so much that, at age 73, she's going back to work at the Revere School District as a part-time custodian. In fact, this past Christmas, she was hurting for money, but wanted to be able to give gifts. So, she talked with her supervisor. "She started giving me more work to do,” Long said.

We asked her what it’s like dealing with Social Security.

Her answer?

“I don't like it."