Legislative Update for Week Ending August 17, 2018

Legislative Update for Week Ending August 17, 2018

This week, The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) endorsed legislation that would provide the most vulnerable seniors with a new poverty relief benefit. In addition, House lawmakers remained in their home districts to continue the summer recess.

TSCL Endorses Elder Poverty Relief Act

This week, The Senior Citizens League announced its support for the Elder Poverty Relief Act (S. 2653), which was introduced in the Senate by Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (OR), along with the support of two original cosponsors. If adopted, the bill would boost the Social Security benefits of nearly 14 million retirees by $85 per month.

The following beneficiaries would qualify for the new poverty relief benefit:

  • Social Security beneficiaries who have reached the age of eighty-two;
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries at the full retirement age;
  • Social Security beneficiaries at the full retirement age who receive monthly benefits below $944 per month (adjusted annually);
  • Social Security and SSI beneficiaries who have received benefits for twenty years.

According to Senator Wyden, around 10 percent of seniors live in poverty, and the rate is even higher – nearly 19 percent – for those over the age of eighty. If adopted in 2019, his bill would lift 420,000 of the most vulnerable seniors out of poverty.

In a letter of support, Art Cooper – Chairman of The Senior Citizens League’s Board of Trustees – wrote: “Improving retirement security is critical to our supporters, many of whom are living in poverty because their Social Security benefits have failed to keep pace with rising health care costs ... According to our research, Social Security benefits have lost 34 percent of their purchasing power since 2000 due to inadequate COLAs. It’s clear that seniors aren’t just living on fixed incomes, but shrinking incomes.”

TSCL enthusiastically supports the Elder Poverty Relief Act (S. 2653) and we believe it would go a long way in ensuring the retirement security senior citizens have earned and deserve. We look forward to working with Senator Wyden in the months ahead to help build support for his critical bill, and we hope to see it signed into law in the near future. For progress updates, follow TSCL on Twitter or visit the Legislative News section of our website.

Summer Recess Continues

This week, lawmakers in the House remained in their home districts to continue the summer recess. They are expected to return to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, September 4th. In the meantime, many Members of Congress will be attending local events and hosting town hall meetings in their home districts. The Senior Citizens League encourages its supporters to attend these events and to ask important questions of their elected officials, like the following five...

  1. Some lawmakers are advocating for paid leave legislation that would require new parents to trade their future Social Security retirement benefits for twelve weeks of parental leave. This would undermine the mission of the Social Security program, increase its insolvency, and permanently cut the retirement benefits of those who take paid leave. Do you think this is a responsible proposal?
  2. Social Security beneficiaries received a 2% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) this year, but most have seen their benefit increases completely offset by higher Medicare Part B premiums. Do you support legislation that would give older Americans a more fair and adequate Social Security COLA?
  3. In April, more than 150 House lawmakers proposed a budget blueprint that would have reformed the Medicare program and cut Social Security benefits by adopting the “chained” CPI, eliminating the COLA for some seniors, and raising the eligibility age. Did you support this budget blueprint, and if so, why?
  4. The federal government negotiates prescription drug prices for Medicaid and for veterans, but it is barred from negotiating lower prices for Medicare beneficiaries. As a result, senior citizens enrolled in Part D often pay much higher prices for their prescriptions. What are you doing to correct this unfair policy?
  5. Medicare is currently prohibited from covering most hearing, vision, and dental services, even though millions of seniors are afflicted with age-related hearing loss, low vision, and poor oral health. When left untreated, these conditions often result in serious injuries and complications. What do you feel should be done about this?

For information about town hall meetings near you in the days ahead, call the local offices of your elected officials. For contact information, click HERE.