Risk of Deeper Benefit Cuts When Congress Waits

Risk of Deeper Benefit Cuts When Congress Waits

The Notch Fairness Act In House And Senate

What happens when Congress waits too long to address a Social Security funding crisis? Deeper benefit cuts, sudden tax increases, and glitches in the implementation of reforms that can lead to significant benefit inequities between people close to each other in age. Consider the case of the Social Security Notch that led to the most significant benefit inequities in the history of the program. The Notch affects seniors born from 1917 through 1926 and other seniors having similar work histories and earnings.

In 1977 Congress enacted changes to the Social Security benefit formula that affected seniors just two years from first entitlement to Social Security. A transitional formula supplied by Congress to phase in the changes, failed to prevent abrupt cuts and big disparities – as much as $111.80 per month in the well – publicized case of two sisters who worked for the same company.

TSCL has been successful in gaining co-sponsors for legislation to address Notch reform. The Notch Fairness Act, introduced in House and Senate by Representative Mike McIntyre (NC-17) and Senator David Vitter (LA) would provide Notch Babies born 1917 through 1926 their choice of $5,000 paid in four annual installments, or an improved monthly benefit. As of June 30, seventeen Members of Congress had signed on as co-sponsors. One new cosponsor said he was signing on to The Notch Fairness Act in honor of his father a Notch baby who recently passed away.

Almost 4 million retired Notch Babies, spouses and their survivors would benefit from this modest old age boost that TSCL estimates would cost about $16.5 billion.