MONTPELIER — Sen. Patrick Leahy and Sen. Bernie Sanders have joined 18 Senate Democrats in seeking a one-time payment for seniors on Social Security in place of the absent cost-of-living increase. The Seniors and Veterans Emergency Benefits Act, introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a first-term Democrat, seeks to provide a boost to about 70 million seniors, veterans and people with disabilities with a bonus payment of $581.
The Social Security Administration determined in October there will be no annual increase Jan. 1 for beneficiaries. It will be just the third time in 40 years that beneficiaries do not see an increase in the benefit. Social Security benefits are tied to the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers, so benefits rise when consumer prices go up. But the bill’s sponsors say the formula Congress uses to determine inflation does not reflect what seniors actually spend. Seniors typically spend more than the average American on medicine and medical needs and less on consumer products like televisions.
Official government data show the cost of core goods and services is up about 2 percent, but Social Security benefits are not slated to rise accordingly. The bill’s sponsors say the one-time $581 payment is equal to 3.9 percent of the average annual Social Security benefit. That would be the same percentage raise that CEOs at the top 350 companies in the U.S. received last year.
Leahy, a Democrat and the longest-serving member of the Senate, said keeping benefit levels flat will have dire consequences for many. “For the nearly two-thirds of beneficiaries who depend on Social Security for at least half of their income, and for the 24 percent of those where Social Security is the sole source of income, this news is not just distressing — it is devastating,” he said.
The cost of the additional payments would be covered by closing a tax loophole that allows companies to write off executive bonuses as a business expense for “performance pay.” The revenue raised beyond what is needed for the payment would be used to bolster and extend the life of the Social Security and disability trust funds. “By no longer allowing corporations to receive tax deductions for performance pay packages for their executives, we could give a one-time, emergency payment to our nation’s seniors and increase the solvency of the Social Security trust fund without adding a penny to the deficit,” Leahy said.
Sanders, an independent seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, has repeatedly called for expanding Social Security benefits on the campaign trail. “It is unacceptable that millions of senior citizens and disabled veterans did not receive a cost-of-living adjustment this year to keep up with their rising living expenses” he said. “At a time when senior poverty is going up and more than two-thirds of the elderly population rely on Social Security for more than half of their income, our job must be to expand, not cut, Social Security,” Sanders said. “At the very least, we must do everything we can to make sure that every senior citizen and disabled veteran in this country receives a fair cost-of-living adjustment to keep up with the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs and health care.” Congress approved a $250 supplemental Social Security payment in 2009. Another effort to provide a supplemental payment in 2010 failed.
Every senior citizen Bernie, even the millionaires and billionaires?
Hey, I’m willing to take more of your money just like the next guy, especially if the amount is considerably above the rate of inflation.
Seems to be a few disconnects here as usual. If the formula for the COLA doesn’t work (usually only in the year there is none it appears), why didn’t these folks fix the formula in the years they had full control of Congress, or any year for that matter?
How many average, struggling middle-class working Americans are getting a 3.9% raise in 2016? Other than pandering, promoting class warfare and scapegoating, what has the pay of a few CEOs got to do with anything? Allowing a company to deduct as a business expense pay at risk is hardly a loop-hole.
Do the numbers work? Does anyone know what these bonuses will be in 2016? How much is really left to shore up Social Security and exactly how will it get to the SS trust fund? What happens when bonuses are lower which may happen if they are not deductible any longer?
Old Bernie is on his Rx kick. Don’t those on Medicare have Rx coverage (many with supplemental coverage too) and if they are low-income and are dual eligible for Medicaid, coverage there as well?
And Old Bernie, about those veterans; you better read this from the Veterans Administration.
VA’s prescription benefit ensures that our Veterans receive safe, effective, medically necessary medications that represent a good value. If you are being treated by a VA primary care provider, you will be provided all necessary medications for you treatment. Some Veterans may receive their VA medications free of charge based on their service-connected disabilities. While other, who do not have service-connected disabilities, are charged a copayment for each 30 day supply of medications VA provides.
Oh yes, that co-payment? It’s $8.00 or $9.00 depending on income. What’s your co-payment via Obamacare?
These politicians mostly on the left, but not always, treat Americans like they are simpletons. They ignore or distort the fundamental problems and instead pander quick fixes to the masses. It’s like placing a band aid on a wound that requires sutures.
They are idiots … or maybe that’s only the people who believe them 🤓