Today, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) voted for H.R. 5987, the Seniors Protection Act but the bill failed to receive the over two-thirds support needed for approval. The legislation, cosponsored by Higgins, would have provided a one-time $250 payment to seniors on Social Security to compensate for an automatic formula that calculates no Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2011.
"I am saddened to see partisan Washington politics win out at the expense of seniors in Western New York and across the nation," said Congressman Higgins. "For Social Security recipients in this community that $250 payment, while not exorbitant, certainly goes a long way toward paying heating bills or prescription costs. The issue of making sure our seniors have the most basic of necessities should not be one that divides but instead a national priority we can all unite behind."
Since 1975, Social Security recipients have received an annual COLA based on the consumer price index. With the exception of the last two year, over the past decade cost of living adjustments have averaged three percent annually. For the second consecutive year seniors on Social Security are facing no COLA. This reality is especially difficult given Social Security benefits average only $14,000 annually.
Under the bill over 3.69 million people in New York State would have qualified to receive the $250 adjustment. Eligible recipients would have included those receiving Social Security, railroad retirement benefits, and veterans disability compensation or pension benefits.
The bill was widely supported by senior and veteran organizations including the AARP, Alliance for Retired Americans, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the Disabled American Veterans and Military Officers Association of America.
Congressman Higgins spoke on the House floor expressing strong support for the bill and urging its passage. Video of the Congressman's remarks is available at: http://www.youtube.com/user/congressmanhiggins.
The final vote was 254-153, just short of the 2/3 vote required for passage, with Democrats voting 228-12 and Republicans voting 26-141.