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Introduction of the Social Security Fairness for Merchant Mariners Act of 2004

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Location: Washington, DC


INTRODUCTION OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY FAIRNESS FOR MERCHANT MARINERS ACT OF 2004 -- (Extensions of Remarks - July 22, 2004)

SPEECH OF
HON. BOB FILNER
OF CALIFORNIA
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
THURSDAY, JULY 22, 2004

Mr. FILNER. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce the "Social Security Fairness for Merchant Mariners Act of 2004" (H.R. 4904).

There were three major roles in World War II: the fighting forces overseas, the production army at home, and the link between them-the United States Merchant Marine. The maritime power of the Merchant Marine may have been the difference between victory and defeat.

The World War II Merchant Mariners suffered the highest casualty rate of any of the branches of service while they delivered troops, tanks, food, airplanes, fuel and other needed supplies to every theater of the war. Enemy forces sank over 800 ships between 1941 and 1944 alone.

Given the role of the Merchant Mariners in World War II, it is unbelievable that they were not given their proper recognition as "veterans". I would hope that this was an oversight, not a deliberate attempt to exclude them from
benefits.

One of the results of this lack of the "veteran" designation is that the law does not recognize Merchant Mariners as veterans for Social Security purposes. If they had the veteran designation, their Social Security would have been calculated as if they had earned $160 more a month than they did earn during their time in service in the Merchant Marines. Of course, what this means is a smaller Social Security check, now that they are retired.

My bill H.R. 4904, will fix this unfair situation! It will provide benefits with the status of "veteran" under the Social Security Act to the Merchant Mariners who served during World War II.

Combined with my bill, the "Belated Thank You to the Merchant Mariners of World War II" (H.R. 3729), which would compensate them for their exclusion from GI Bill benefits, Congress can fix the injustice that has been endured by the Merchant Mariners. We can never make up for years lost, but we can provide additional benefits to Merchant Mariners, many of whom are living on small, fixed incomes, in their final years.

I urge my colleagues to support and co-sponsor H.R. 4904

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