U.S. Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA14) announced today that he wants Congress to pass legislation before the end of the year to provide Social Security recipients with a one-time $250 payment in 2011.
"Millions of seniors across the country are struggling to make ends meet on fixed incomes while many of their expenses are going up," Congressman Doyle said this morning. "That's why I urged the House Democratic leadership to bring legislation to the Floor that would provide this much-needed assistance to our seniors, and I'm pleased that they've decided to do so."
The Social Security Administration is scheduled to announce later today that there will be no automatic Cost-of-Living-Adjustment ("COLA") for 2011, due to the low level of inflation our economy is experiencing. There will be no COLA for SSI, VA Disability Pension and Compensation, or Railroad Retirement benefits, either. The unusually low inflation rate was the reason that Social Security recipients didn't receive a COLA this year, either.
For the first time ever, there will be two consecutive years in which Social Security retirees, veterans, and people with disabilities won't get increases in their monthly benefits.
This unprecedented situation is a result of economic conditions, not the result of Congressional or Presidential action or inaction. The COLA is automatically calculated using data on inflation published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). October 15 is the day BLS releases the final economic factor that the Social Security Administration uses to calculate the annual COLA. In 2009, Social Security recipients saw a 5.8% increase in their benefits, the largest since 1982, as a result of rising costs; but in 2010, they got no COLA at all.
"I support the Seniors Protection Act (H.R. 5987), which would provide a $250 payment to more than 50 million American seniors to make up for the COLA many of them were counting on," Congressman Doyle added. "I will work with my colleagues in the House to put this legislation on the President's desk by the end of November."
Social Security benefit levels are about $14,000 a year for the average retiree, but many Social Security beneficiaries receive far less. Moreover, three out of five seniors in our country rely on Social Security for more than half of their income, and roughly one in three retirees depends on Social Security for almost all of their income. These Americans are especially vulnerable to rising prices, even when the national inflation rate is low.
"Too many seniors have to choose between putting food on the table and paying for all the medicine they need," Congressman Doyle observed. "This payment won't solve all their problems, but even if it covers just a couple of utility bills or prescription drug co-pays, it's big enough to mean a lot to them."