This week, lawmakers returned to Capitol Hill from the holiday recess and one Senate Subcommittee held a hearing to discuss a paid family leave proposal that would negatively impact the future of the Social Security program. In addition, The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) saw support grow for three key bills.
Senate Subcommittee Considers Family Leave Proposal
On Wednesday afternoon, the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy held a hearing titled: “Examining the Importance of Paid Family Leave for American Working Families.” Those on the subcommittee heard from two of their colleagues – Senator Joni Ernst (IA) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) – as well as three expert witnesses.
One paid family leave proposal discussed at Wednesday’s hearing would negatively impact the future of the Social Security program if adopted. It would allow parents to claim up to 12 weeks of early Social Security benefits as a form of paid family leave following the birth or adoption of a child. To offset the cost, individuals would be required to delay the collection of their Social Security benefits in retirement. Those who take twelve weeks of paid family leave would see their full eligibility ages in retirement increase by as much as twenty-five weeks.
According to the Urban Institute, parents who take paid leave one time would see a 3.2 percent cut in their future Social Security benefits, and parents who take paid leave two times would see a benefit cut of around 5.5 percent. Those who take four paid leaves would see permanent Social Security benefit cuts of around 10 percent in retirement.
Despite claims that the proposal would have no cost for the Social Security program, research shows that it would put a financial strain on the Social Security program. According to a report released this week by the American Action Forum, this family leave proposal would have a net cost of around $226 billion, and it would advance the insolvency of the Social Security Trust Funds by around six months.
At Wednesday’s hearing, many of the Subcommittee members expressed their support for this model of paid family leave, while others spoke about the detrimental impact it would have on the Social Security program. Senator Sherrod Brown (OH) – Ranking Member of the Subcommittee – said in his opening statement: “Using your retirement security to fund paid time off from work when you have a child is not paid family leave at all – it’s robbing from your retirement to be able to care for loved ones now … I want to work together, but a plan that’s a first step toward privatizing Social Security – the bedrock of our social safety net – is no place to start.”
The Senior Citizens League agrees with Senator Brown, and we oppose the proposal since it would negatively impact Social Security’s finances and the retirement security of future beneficiaries. In the days ahead, Senator Marco Rubio (FL) and Senator Joni Ernst (IA) are expected to introduce the proposal as legislation, and TSCL’s legislative team will monitor its movement closely. For updates, follow TSCL on Twitter or visit the Legislative News section of our website.
Three Key Bills Gain Support
This week, The Senior Citizens League was pleased to see support grow for three key bills that would strengthen and protect the Social Security and Medicare programs.
First, one new cosponsor – Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA) – signed on to the Patient Right to Know Act (S. 2554), bringing the total up to seven. If adopted, this bipartisan bill would ensure that pharmacists are never prohibited from telling patients when their prescriptions would be cheaper out-of-pocket than through their insurance coverage.
Second, one new cosponsor – Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17) – signed on to the Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers (CPI-E) Act (H.R. 1251), bringing the total up to fifty-two. If adopted, the CPI-E Act would base Social Security cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) on the more fair and adequate CPI-E. Currently, COLAs are based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners (CPI-W), and they fail to keep pace with the inflation experienced by older Americans.
Finally, two new cosponsors – Congressman Bill Foster (IL-11) and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) – signed on to the Nursing Home CARE Act (H.R. 4704), bringing the total up to twenty-four. The bill, if adopted, would protect Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries by more quickly codifying emergency preparedness rules for nursing home facilities that receive funding from the federal government.
The Senior Citizens League enthusiastically supports S. 2554, H.R. 1251, and H.R. 4704, and we will continue to advocate for their passage in the months ahead. For more information, visit the Bill Tracking section of our website.