Q: My mother was a Notch baby, born in 1919 and now my disabled brother receives her survivor’s benefits. It is only fair that he receives whatever the government did not award my mother and other workers. If The Notch Fairness Act is passed how long will it take to award survivors?
A: The Notch that affected your mother resulted when Congress changed the Social Security benefit formula in 1977. Millions of retirees born from 1917 through 1926 received retirement benefits that were signficantly lower than benefits received by other retirees with similar work and earnings histories.
The Notch Fairness Act (H.R. 368) introduced by Representative Ralph Hall (TX) would provide Notch Babies, or survivors who receive benefits on their accounts, a choice of an improved monthly benefit or a $5,000 lump sum payable in four annual installments. If Notch Babies or survivors like your disabled brother wish to receive the $5,000 lump sum, they will have a certain period of time after passage of the legislation in which to “elect” or to notify Social Security of their desire to receive the lump sum. The legislation then requires that the first annual installment of $1,250 would be paid six months later. If the Social Security Administration receives no “election” by the deadline, then Notch Babies would automatically receive the higher monthly benefit.
Once The Notch Fairness Act is passed into law, there would be a relatively short period in which to contact the Social Security Administration and to elect the $5,000 lump sum. It is therefore very important for Notch Babies, or caregivers such as you, to stay informed of the progress of the legislation and what you need to do upon passage.
Currently The Notch Fairness Act is in the House Subcommittee on Social Security and has garnered very strong support, with 110 co-sponsors as of the end of 2007. In addition, a new Senate resolution has also been introduced that calls for consideration of corrective Notch legislation (S. Res. 363). We urge Notch Babies and their caregivers to contact your Members of Congress and ask them to co-sponsor these bills.