Update: Totalization Is Hot Topic During TSCL Trustees Meetings On Capitol Hill

Update: Totalization Is Hot Topic During TSCL Trustees Meetings On Capitol Hill

By Jamie McMillen, TSCL Legislative Assistant
Recently the TREA Senior Citizens League (TSCL) Board of Trustees traveled to Capitol Hill for a week filled with meetings.  The Board was able to meet with 7 Congressional offices, including one drop-by visit (to discuss CPI-E) with Chief of Staff Kevin Kimble and Legislative Assistant Yadira Castellanos in the office of Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-TX).  Among the topics discussed were Notch Reform, anti-totalization measures, prescription drug costs, and the consumer price index for elderly (CPI-E).

The reception by the Members of Congress was phenomenal.  Meetings were held with Rep. David Davis (TN-1), Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO-7), Rep. Doug Lamborn (CO-5), Rep. John Sarbanes (MD-3), Rep. Dan Boren (OK-2), and Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-1).

Said TSCL Chairman Ralph McCutchen, "We've gotten much accomplished this trip and received plenty of good news as far as getting more support for our concerns.  We were able to show the Members of Congress we met with that living proof of the Notch does exist and reform is needed sooner rather than later."

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and all TSCL members, we would like to send a hearty "thank-you," to the Members of Congress and their staff for meeting with us.

One of the key issues discussed was the growing concern surrounding the possibility of the Totalization Agreement between the United States and Mexico being signed by the President.  If this happens, Congress would have a limited amount of time (60 session days) to actually review the Agreement.  If Congress decides not to take any action, the Agreement would automatically go into effect.

TSCL is highly concerned about the Totalization Agreement since it would likely add billions in costs to Social Security and drain Social Security benefits from American citizens who retire in the future.  The Agreement would also increase exponentially the number of foreign workers claiming Social Security benefits.  Social Security law currently allows non-citizens, who at some point obtain work authorization and a valid Social Security number, to claim benefits.  Under current policy, Social Security uses all earnings regardless of a workers' legal status at the time the work was performed, to determine entitlement to benefits — including earnings while working illegally in the U.S.  Such work could have been done while using an invalid or even fraudulent Social Security number.  Several Members of Congress have introduced legislation that would prevent the Totalization Agreement from moving forward and that would give Congress more oversight over Totalization agreements with other nations.  In addition, anti-Totalization legislation opposes Social Security benefits going to those who worked in the United States while illegal.

Be sure to check out the TSCL website, www.SeniorsLeague.org, for updates to bill co-sponsor lists and for newly introduced legislation.  As TSCL continues to work with people on Capitol Hill to make your issues known, your help is also needed and greatly appreciated.

June 2007