A seniors advocacy group is reaching out to leading members of Congress to support a one-time, $1,400 Social Security stimulus payment to help older Americans overcome financial difficulties caused by inflation and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
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The Senior Citizens League, a non-partisan group that advocates for senior benefits, announced on its website last week that Chairman Rick Delaney sent letters to Congressional leaders proposing the stimulus payment.
In the letter, Delaney noted that his organization has heard from thousands of seniors who have “exhausted their retirement savings, started eating only one meal a day, started cutting their pills in half because they can’t afford prescription drugs.”
“[These are] just a few of the drastic steps so many have had to take because of what inflation has done to them this year,” Delaney wrote, adding that many seniors believe “our government has forgotten about us.”
A $1,400 stimulus check — combined with a 6% increase in Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustment projected for next year — would go a long way toward easing those problems, said Mary Johnson, Social Security and Medicare policy analyst at TSCL.
“There are several reasons why a $1,400 stimulus check for Social Security recipients is still greatly needed” even with the COLA increase, Johnson wrote in an email to GOBankingRates.
For one thing, she said, a large percentage of Social Security recipients are in “financially fragile” circumstances.
“Roughly 43% of those responding to our online survey say they have no retirement savings,” Johnson said. “Of the people who do have savings, our surveys found that 50% of those responding said their retirement savings had not recovered to the pre-pandemic value as of December 31, 2019, despite the big run-up in the stock market later in 2020 and the first part of 2021 when our survey was conducted.”
She also noted that while the higher COLA will increase the income people receive from Social Security, it could also increase their amount of taxable benefits. A higher COLA might also lead to a reduction in benefits from other programs such as food stamps, rental assistance and Medicare savings.
TSCL officials are realistic about how their proposal might go over with lawmakers, who have lately been busy haggling over matters like the debt ceiling and President Joe Biden’s proposed infrastructure bill.
In his letter, Delaney said “it is unlikely Congress will take action on our proposal this year but if we can build enough support from seniors for it, we are hopeful it can become a major issue next year and that Congressional support for it will grow.”
Delaney’s letters comes on the heels of TSCL’s earlier petition to Congress to issue a round of stimulus checks for seniors only. As GOBankingRates previously reported, the petition urged lawmakers to support a $1,400 stimulus payment because “soaring inflation has taken a toll on household finances of retired and disabled Social Security recipients.”
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