Legislative Update for Week Ending May 13, 2016

Legislative Update for Week Ending May 13, 2016

This week, The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) traveled to Columbia, South Carolina to tell seniors at the Lourie Center about the recent changes Congress made to the Social Security program. In addition, one key bill gained six new cosponsors on Capitol Hill.

TSCL Discusses Social Security Changes with Older Americans

On Tuesday, TSCL’s legislative team spoke at the Lourie Center in Columbia, SC about the changes Congress made to the Social Security program when they passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 last fall. The budget deal eliminated two significant filing strategies that millions of retired married couples used to maximize their Social Security benefits.

First, the deal put an end to the practice of “filing and suspending,” where one spouse would file for Social Security benefits and immediately suspend them so they could continue accruing delayed retirement credits. Meanwhile, the other spouse could begin collecting a monthly spousal benefit.

The budget deal also extended the practice of “deemed filing” until age seventy for those currently under the age of sixty-two. Previously, at the full retirement age, a married individual could choose whether he or she would receive a spousal benefit or his or her own Social Security benefit. Now, the Social Security Administration will automatically pay the larger of the two when those under the age of sixty-two file for benefits.

These two policy changes will cost many married couples tens of thousands of dollars in lost Social Security benefits, and TSCL was disappointed that Congress negotiated them behind closed doors with no input from advocates or concerned constituents. Those in attendance at Tuesday’s presentation may not be able to take advantage of the traditional strategies for boosting their benefits, but they left the meeting with several other recommendations for getting the most out of their Social Security benefits.

For more information on how you can maximize your Social Security benefits or to request a speaker for your group of twenty-five or more people, click HERE.

Key Bill Gains Support on Capitol Hill

This week, six new cosponsors signed on to the Social Security Fairness Act (S. 1651, H.R. 973), bringing the total up to twenty-four in the Senate and up to 150 in the House. The new cosponsors are: Sen. Mark Kirk (IL), Rep. Deborah Dingell (MI-12), Rep. John Duncan, Jr. (TN-2), Rep. Steve Israel (NY-3), Rep. Bobby Rush (IL-1), and Rep. Nita Lowey (NY-17).

If signed into law, the bill would repeal two Social Security provisions – the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) – that unfairly reduce or eliminate the earned Social Security benefits of millions of retired teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other state or local government employees each year.

TSCL believes the WEP and the GPO must be repealed as soon as possible so that public servants receive the retirement security they have earned and deserve. We were pleased to see support grow for it on Capitol Hill this week, and we hope to see it passed into law before the end of the 114th Congress.