Last week, the House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Social Security, held a hearing on “Challenges Facing the Next Commissioner of Social Security.” The hearing focused on “the challenges facing the next Commissioner, including those related to service delivery capacity, human capital management, strategic planning, information technology, physical infrastructure and the agency’s ability to effectively administer Social Security programs.” Witnesses were The Honorable Patrick P. O’Carroll Jr., Inspector General, Social Security Administration and Daniel Bertoni, Director, Education, Workforce, and Income Security, Government Accountability Office. Visit the Committee web site to view testimony as well as archived video.
In the House, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) has introduced H. Con. Res.34, expressing the sense of the Congress that the Chained Consumer Price Index (CPI) should not be used to calculate cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security benefits. Eighty-two Representatives have signed on as co-sponsors of this concurrent resolution, which has been referred to the Committee on Ways and Means. In the Senate, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) has introduced S. Con. Res. 15, expressing the sense of Congress that the Chained CPI should not be used to calculate cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security or veterans’ benefits, or to increase the tax burden on low- and middle-income taxpayers. Sixteen Senators have signed on to the concurrent resolution, which was referred to the Committee on Finance. The Arc strongly supports these resolutions.
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) has introduced the Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act (H.R. 1601). The bill would update the SSI resource limits, to $10,000 for an individual or $15,000 for a couple – the amount they would be today if adjusted for inflation since 1989, the last time the resource limits were updated. The bill would also update the general income disregard (to $110 per month) and the earned income disregard (to $357 per month) to the amounts they would be today if adjusted for inflation since 1972, the last time they were updated. Finally, the bill would repeal the in-kind support and maintenance provision and repeal the SSI transfer penalty.
The Arc’s T.J. Sutcliffe spoke at a Hill briefing last week on the legislation, hosted by Rep. Grijalva and sponsored by the National Senior Citizens Law Center. Read The Arc’s full statement in support of this important legislation.
Last week, the House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Social Security held a hearing on “President’s and Other Bipartisan Entitlement Reform Proposals.” The hearing focused on proposals to use the chained Consumer Price Index (“chained CPI”) for cost-of-living adjustments under Social Security and other programs, as well as the federal tax code. The Arc strongly opposes use of the chained CPI for Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, the federal poverty guidelines, and other vital programs for low-income people, including people with disabilities. Visit the Committee’s web site to review testimony and archived video from the hearing. Visit The Arc’s web site to learn more about our concerns with the chained CPI.
On April 26th the House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Social Security will hold a hearing on “Challenges Facing the Next Commissioner of Social Security.” According to the hearing announcement, the hearing will focus on “the challenges facing the next Commissioner, including those related to service delivery capacity, human capital management, strategic planning, information technology, physical infrastructure and the agency’s ability to effectively administer Social Security programs.” Visit the Committee web site to view the hearing announcement as well as live video the day of the hearing.
The CR passed by the House and Senate includes $27 million for the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) program and $7 million for the Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) program. Since their inception, WIPA and PABSS have provided essential support to help Social Security and SSI disability beneficiaries attain self-sufficiency through work. The authorization of appropriations for the PABSS and WIPA programs expired on September 30, 2011. The Social Security Administration set aside funding to sustain the PABSS program until September 30, 2012 and the WIPA program until June 30, 2012, but did not continue to fund the programs after those dates. Funding under the CR will allow the restarting of the programs.
On March 20th the House Committee on Ways and Means, Social Security Subcommittee held a hearing on “Challenges of Achieving Fair and Consistent Disability Decisions.” Witnesses were Patrick P. O’Carroll, Jr., Inspector General, Social Security Administration (SSA), accompanied by Heather Hermann, National Coordinator, Cooperative Disability Investigations Program, Office of the Inspector General, SSA; Arthur R. Spencer, Associate Commissioner, Office of Disability Programs, SSA; Kathy Ruffing, Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; Trudy Lyon-Hart, Director, Office of Disability Determination Services, Vermont Agency of Human Services, on behalf of the National Council of Disability Determination Directors; David Hatfield, Administrative Law Judge (Retired), Wexford, Pennsylvania. Visit the Committee web site to review testimony and archived video of the hearing.
As Congress continues to look at deficit reduction, a major cut called the “chained CPI” is on the table. The chained CPI would cut Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and other vital benefits. Cuts from the chained CPI would add up significantly over time and would disproportionately harm people with disabilities. The Arc recently released a National Policy Matters on the chained CPI. On Wednesday March 27, 2013, from 2:00 – 2:45 p.m. EDT join the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Social Security Task Force for a webinar to learn more about:
- What is the chained CPI?
- How would the chained CPI harm people with disabilities and their families?
- What can you do to help keep the chained CPI from becoming a reality?
Register online. For more information: T.J. Sutcliffe, The Arc / CCD Social Security Task Force Co-Chair at firstname.lastname@example.org / 202-783-2229 or Rebecca Vallas, Community Legal Services / CCD Social Security Task Force Co-Chair at email@example.com / 215-981-3797.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) have introduced related bills to apply Social Security payroll taxes to all income above $250,000, significantly strengthening Social Security’s long term finances (Keeping Our Social Security Promises Act, S. 500 and No Loopholes in Social Security Taxes Act, H.R. 1029). S. 500 was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance; H.R. 1029 was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) has introduced the Strengthening Social Security Act. The bill would change the method for calculating Social Security benefits, increasing benefits by approximately $70 per month. The bill also seeks to ensure that cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) adequately reflect beneficiaries’ living expenses, by basing the Social Security COLAs on the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E). Finally, the bill would phase out the current taxable cap of $113,700 so that payroll taxes apply fairly to all wages. Combined, these changes will increase benefits for current and future beneficiaries while extending the life of the Trust Fund through approximately 2049.
The Arc supports efforts to strengthen the long-term solvency of the Social Security Trust Funds and to ensure that benefits are adequate, and supports both of these bills.
The House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Social Security held a hearing on “Financing Challenges Facing the Social Security Disability Insurance Program.” Witnesses were Joyce M. Manchester, Ph.D., Chief, Long-Term Analysis Unit, Health, Retirement, and Long-Term Analysis Division Congressional Budget Office and Stephen C. Goss, Chief Actuary, Social Security Administration. Visit the Committee web site to view testimony and archived video.