"My husband passed away September 5, 2005. What will happen to his lump-sum if they ever decide to pass Notch Reform? What would happen to my lump-sum if I should die now? Would my daughter get it? It seems they are waiting for us all to die."
TSCL receives hundreds of comments like this from Notch Babies and their families. Substantial numbers of Notch Babies believe Congress is waiting for the Notch problem to die with them. Yet Members of Congress are continuing to add their names to legislation that would correct the Notch.
The Notch Fairness Act, H.R. 615, introduced by Representative Ralph Hall, would allow Notch Babies their choice of a higher monthly benefit or a lump-sum of $5,000 payable in four annual installments. The legislation would allow eligible survivors of Notch Babies, persons who receive Social Security benefits based on the account of a Notch Baby, to receive up to 100% of the benefit payable to the deceased.
In some cases, where the surviving spouse is younger, or there is a disabled child, the higher monthly benefit might be preferable because presumably it would be payable for a longer period of time. In addition, the Notch Reform benefit would be split among eligible survivors, for example, a widow and a former divorced spouse. Under these circumstances the higher monthly benefit may also yield more than the lump-sum. But for most Notch Babies or their survivors, TSCL believes the lump-sum would provide a higher benefit.
Most surviving children would not be eligible for Notch Fairness Act benefits, but the issue should concern every single child of a Notch Baby. Recent Social Security reform proposals to attach a "price index" to the Social Security benefit formula would cut benefits for future retirees in a manner similar to the 1977 changes that led to the Notch. In addition, Congress thus far has taken no constructive non-partisan action to address Social Security's looming shortfall - meaning they may have to make very deep and abrupt cuts when they can no longer stall for time.
Only last year the Comptroller General of the United States, David Walker, warned Congress about this very thing saying, "Doing nothing, means that we are going to head to a precipitous decline in benefits. Remember the Notch Baby problem? This would be a Notch Baby problem magnified multiple times and it should not be allowed to happen."
Notch Reform is far from being over though. Officially there are more co-sponsors of "The Notch Fairness Act" than ever before at the end of the first year of a session of Congress and support is ahead of last-sessions record-breaking numbers. With enough co-sponsors signed on, TSCL and the grass roots can help force the bill to the floor for a straight up and down vote. We urge you, and the families of all Notch Babies, to contact your Members of Congress. Ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 615, and enact "The Notch Fairness Act."