Legislative Update For Week Ending January 21, 2012

Legislative Update For Week Ending January 21, 2012

The House of Representatives returned from break this week and the Senate will follow suit beginning next week. New co-sponsors have been added to two key bills, and the effort to repeal the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program moves one step closer.

New Co-Sponsors Added to Key Bills

Reps. Brad Miller (NC-13), Frederica Wilson (SC-2), Laura Richardson (CA-37), Jim McDermott (WA-7) Robert Andrews (NJ-1), Sam Graves (MO-6), Jim Gerlach (PA-6), Madeleine Bordallo (GU), Patrick Meehan (PA-7), Jon Runyan (NJ-3), and Leonard Lance (NJ-7) – signed on to Rep. Howard McKeon’s (CA-25) H.R. 1332 (Social Security Fairness Act which includes pension offset and windfall elimination). The co-sponsor total is at 145.

This bill would enable retired school teachers, university employees and thousands of civil servants to receive all of the Social Security pensions for which they are entitled. A Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) have long limited the full aid that these beneficiaries merit.

Effective since 1977, the GPO prohibits retired spouses, widows, and widowers from receiving the full benefits based on his or her spouse’s employment. The WEP was passed in 1983 and reduces the benefit of a retired or disabled worker who also receives a federal, state or local government annuity based on his or her earnings by up to 60 percent.

Reps. Steven Rothman (NJ-9) and Michael Michaud (ME-2) signed on to Rep. Charlie Gonzalez’s (TX-20) CPI-E Act (H.R. 456). The co-sponsor total is now at 33.

If passed, the CPI-E Act would base Social Security cost of living adjustments (COLAs) on a consumer price index determined by the spending habits of elderly workers instead of the current formula geared toward younger members of the workforce.

CLASS Program Closer to Being Repealed

The Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act of 2011 (H.R. 1173) was passed by a House panel this week. The bill was previously approved by the House Ways and Means Committee and is now scheduled for a House floor vote.

The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program is part of the healthcare overhaul law and would allow workers to pay into a fund that would provide a $50 daily cash benefit for long-term care services. The program has been delayed since October after officials failed to meet the law’s provisions of being voluntary, solvent, and self-sustaining for 75 years.