Alexandria, VA (May 10, 2011) - Millions of the nation's oldest and poorest senior citizens would be compensated for the lower Social Security benefit they've received for more than 30 years under proposed bipartisan legislation. Introduced in the U.S. House by Representative Mike McIntyre (D-NC), and in the Senate by Senator David Vitter (R-LA), the bill is supported by The Senior Citizens League (TSCL), one of the nation's largest nonpartisan senior citizens advocacy groups.
About four million seniors born from 1917 through 1926, commonly referred to as "Notch Babies," would receive their choice of a $5,000 lump-sum payable in four annual installments, or higher monthly Social Security benefits. The legislation, known as "The Notch Fairness Act" seeks to correct a disparity in benefits caused the last time Congress overhauled the benefit formula in 1977, that began to affect seniors who started to retire just two years later.
Seniors born from 1917 through 1926 often receive lower benefits than do other retirees with almost identical work and earnings records. Although reductions of about 10 percent for average earners was expected at the time of the changes, Notch babies were often affected by disparities of 20 percent or more, because a phase-in benefit formula failed.
In 1988, a report by the former U. S. General Accounting Office, now the Government Accountability Office (GAO), cited an example of two sisters who started working at the same book bindery, on the same day, in October 1957. Audrey was born in March 1916, and Edith in June of 1917. The two had almost identical lifetime earnings. The younger sister Edith (born 1917) received a monthly benefit of $512.60, $111.80 less than her older sister Audrey (who was born in 1916), who received $624.40 per month.
"Notch Babies are now at the age where they are more likely to have chronic health problems and require multiple prescriptions," says TSCL Chairman Larry Hyland. "They are finding it difficult to make their lower benefits cover rising Medicare premiums and out-of-pocket costs, let alone all their other rising costs. The time has come to settle this," Hyland says.
According to studies performed for TSCL, many Notch Babies, particularly those who rely on Social Security for most, if not all of their income, are at risk for living near or below the federal poverty level. For example, Notch Babies who retired in 1984 at age 65 with average benefits of $460 per month would receive about $11,839 this year. In the 48 contiguous states and Washington DC, that's only 8% above the federal poverty guidelines.
Support for the legislation has grown significantly, nearly doubling over the previous six Congressional sessions in which it's been introduced. TSCL is encouraging seniors and their younger family members to contact their Members of Congress and urge them to co-sponsor "The Notch Fairness Act, " H.R. 1001 and S. 118.
With over 1 million supporters, The Senior Citizens League is one of the nation's largest nonpartisan seniors groups. Located just outside Washington, D.C., its mission is to promote and assist members and supporters, to educate and alert senior citizens about their rights and freedoms as U.S. Citizens, and to protect and defend the benefits senior citizens have earned and paid for. The Senior Citizens League is a proud affiliate of The Retired Enlisted Association.