Washington Post: ‘Retirees Push for One-Time Payment’

Posted on by Karina

Next month, the House will vote on the Seniors Protection Act of 2010 (HR 5987) to provide 54 million seniors with a one-time payment of $250 in light of last week’s announcement that there will be no automatic Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for America’s seniors in 2011. This legislation has at least 200 Democratic co-sponsors who have agreed to sign on. No Republicans have announced their support.

An article in this morning’s Washington Post finds that American retirees support the legislation, “pressing hard for lawmakers to give more help to people on fixed incomes”:

Gary Faley, a retired freight yard clerk in Flint, Mich., paid attention the other day when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she will schedule a vote in November on a plan to give an extra $250 to retirees who will not receive a cost-of-living increase in their benefit checks next year.

Faley, legislative director of an association that advocates for the nation’s 600,000 retired railroad workers, immediately sent out an alert asking members to phone a toll-free number and urge their congressional representatives to support the bill.

It will be the second year in a row that benefits have not risen. The consecutive years without an increase are unprecedented since the mid-1970s, when the government began to adjust such payments automatically, based on the inflation rate.

The largest group of people touched by the freeze are the nearly 54 million retired and other Americans who receive monthly Social Security checks. But the same formula that determines whether Social Security payments go up has ripple effects, affecting benefits for retired federal workers and for retired and disabled veterans, as well as former railroad workers.

….In the final two weeks before the midterm elections, after which Congress will come back for a lame-duck session, most…of these constituencies are pressing hard for lawmakers to give more help to people on fixed incomes.

Democratic House and Senate leaders say they want to offset the lack of a cost-of-living adjustment with a one-time $250 payment, similar to one that Congress granted in 2009 as part of its economic stimulus efforts. Republicans largely oppose the idea, cautioning that it would deepen the federal budget deficit.

Last year, House Republicans unanimously voted against legislation to provide seniors and other beneficiaries a $250 economic recovery payment to boost the economy and help them weather an anticipated upcoming COLA cutback. Earlier this year, all Senate Republicans except one voted against a payment for America’s seniors.

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