The Social Security Administration has announced that monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits will increase 3.6 percent in 2012. This is the first cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in these programs since 2009. Increased payments to Social Security beneficiaries will begin January 2012; increased payments to SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 30, 2011. For some beneficiaries, their Social Security increase may be partially or completely offset by increases in Medicare premiums. Additionally, the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) levels for non-blind Social Security and SSI beneficiaries who work will increase from $1,000 to $1,010 per month. A Social Security fact sheet provides more details on the COLA increase.
The House and Senate both failed to pass legislation to grant people with disabilities, seniors, and other Social Security beneficiaries a one-time $250.00 payment that would have helped to offset the fact that there will be no cost of living adjustment in 2011 for the second year in a row. The House bill’s vote of 254-153 was a majority, but did not meet the two-thirds majority necessary for the bill to be fast tracked on the suspension calendar. In addition, the companion Senate bill also failed to get 60 votes (53-45) to bring it to the floor for debate.
The House and Senate are likely to vote this week on the Seniors Protection Act of 2010, H.R. 5987. This legislation would grant a one-time payment of $250 to Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries who are seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities. This payment would be in lieu of the cost of living increase (COLA), which is not payable in 2011 due to the economy and the formula established in the law for paying COLAs. H.R. 5987 is sponsored by Representative Earl Pomeroy (D-ND), a long-time advocate of the Social Security programs and people with disabilities, who lost his bid for re-election.