Benefit Bulletin: March 2012

Benefit Bulletin: March 2012

White House Says Notch Babies Are Receiving a “Fair Share”

Recently TSCL received a note from a Florida Notch baby who shared an interesting letter from the Obama White House. Henry M. wrote to the President about the Notch issue and received the following reply:

“It is important that Social Security benefits are awarded equitably. Since benefit rules were updated in 1977, several commissions have examined the notch issue. They have determined that beneficiaries born in the notch years from 1917 to 1921 are receiving a fair share of Social Security benefits. I encourage you to learn more about the findings of a detailed Congressional study on this issue at:”

The response citing the final report of Commission on the Social Security Notch is not unusual. Presidents and Members of Congress often use commissions as political cover when dealing with contentious issues like Social Security and Medicare. President Obama’s own 2010 Fiscal Commission is a recent example.

What is unusual is the fact that the final reports of most Social Security commissions rarely generate long-term interest. Social Security commission reports are routinely ignored, archived and forgotten about within two or three years. The Notch Commission report is unique in its longevity. That our President, and Members of Congress still hide behind the Notch Commission’s report, 17 years after it was released in 1994, can mean only one thing — that politically active Notch Babies like Henry M. are still demanding a fair resolution.

There is every reason to believe that the benefits of retirees affected by the Notch were anything but equitable. In 1988, the Chairman of the House Select Committee on Aging, Representative Edward R. Roybal, said in a letter to The New York Times on the the Notch subject, “Instead of a transition that was intended to reduce benefits over five years by 6 percent to 10 percent, benefit reductions for a 65-year-old retiree, born in 1917 with average earnings, were 10 percent. In subsequent years, discrepancies of 20 percent or more have been noted. I do not believe that Congress ever intended such drastic cuts in benefits over such a short time.”

TSCL continues to meet with Members of Congress to build support for “The Notch Fairness Act” (H.R. 1001 and S. 118). The legislation would pay Notch babies born from 1917 through 1926 a choice of $5,000 in four annual installments or an improved monthly benefit. The bill was introduced in the House by Representative Mike McIntyre (NC-7), and in the Senate, by Senator David Vitter (LA). We thank all of you who continue to work on this legislation and encourage you to stay in contact with your Members of Congress and President Obama, asking for enactment of this vital legislation.

Sources: “Notch Babies Bill Will Restore Faith In System,” Edward R. Roybal, The New York Times, January 14, 1988.