Legislative Update for Week Ending August 19, 2016

Legislative Update for Week Ending August 19, 2016

This week, after receiving countless complains from seniors without cell phone access, the Social Security Administration removed the text requirement from the online account login process. In addition, lawmakers continued their seven-week congressional recess.

SSA Rescinds New Online Security Policy

Early this week, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced that it would immediately remove the text requirement from the online account login process. TSCL first voiced concerns about the new security policy two weeks ago, when we learned of the change. Senior policy analyst Jessie Gibbons told Karen Damato of Money: “We’re concerned that the abrupt change will cause a lot of confusion and frustration among older Americans, many of whom don’t have reliable access to text-enabled cell phones.”

TSCL was pleased to hear that SSA decided to reverse the policy this week after receiving complaints from beneficiaries. TSCL’s policy consultant Mary Johnson told Karen Damato this week, “We are grateful for a reprieve, even a temporary one.” Policy analyst Jessie Gibbons also told Mary Beth Franklin of Investment News: “We believe the administration made the right decision to rescind their new cell phone texting requirement while they continue to pursue more options.”

This week’s announcement from SSA came as concerns from the Administration were rising about pending budget proposals before Congress. Lawmakers in the House have proposed more than $700 million less than the requested amount for administrative duties. SSA has said that if their proposal were to take effect, they would be forced to implement immediate furloughs, hiring freezes, and temporary office closures.

Funding concerns are one of the key reasons TSCL is relieved SSA has decided to remove the text requirement from the login process. Without online access, more seniors than ever would have been relying on their local Social Security offices, and under-staffed offices would surely have been overwhelmed with requests.

TSCL strongly supports adequate administrative budgets for SSA, and we hope that Congress will act with the best interest of seniors in mind when making funding decisions in the weeks ahead. We will follow the appropriations process closely in the coming weeks, and we will post updates here in the Legislative News section of our website.

Congressional Recess Continues

This week, Members of Congress remained in their home states and districts to continue the seven-week summer recess. They are expected to return to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, September 6th. In the meantime, most Members of Congress will be holding town hall meetings in their home states and districts. TSCL encourages its members and supporters to attend these events and to voice their concerns about important Social Security and Medicare issues.

The following Members of Congress, among many others, will be holding town hall meetings this week: Sen. Michael Crapo (ID), Sen. Jerry Moran (KS), Rep. John Ratcliffe (TX-4), Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), Rep. Bradley Byrne (AL-1), Rep. Tom Cole (OK-4), Rep. Tom Emmer (MN-6), Rep. Tom Graves (GA-14), Rep. Doug LaMalfa (CA-1), Rep. Thomas Massie (KY-4), Rep. Susan Brooks (IN-5), and Rep. Robert Pittenger (NC-9).

For details, or to see if your Members of Congress will be holding town hall meetings during the summer recess, call their local offices. You can find contact information HERE. For a list of ten sample town hall questions, click HERE.