• Legislative Update For Week Ending November 23 2012

    Congressmember Karen Bass is serving her sixth term in Congress. She represents Culver City and parts of Los Angeles. .In January, lawmakers on Capitol Hill will likely begin efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, overhaul the tax code, dramatically alter trade deals, and confirm a new Supreme Court Justice. It remains to be seen which other policy issues will be prioritized by the Republican Congress. Efforts to reform the Social Security and Medicare programs have been on the table for years, and in the platform that the Republican party adopted back in July, lawmakers agreed that "of the many reforms being proposed, all options should be considered." Proposals to raise the Medicare eligibility age or to adopt the "chained" CPI – which would result in more slowly-growing Social Security cost-of-living adjustments – could see congressional action in 2017. .A number of the Commission's proposals would hit seniors particularly hard. Here are a few highlights: … Continued

  • Legislative Update For The Week Ending July 8 2011

    Medicare open enrollment: It pays to get it right .The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has estimated that it improperly paid .1 billion to Medicare Advantage plans in 2013 alone. Yet the plans are rarely forced to repay the money they have overcharged, or face closer government scrutiny after the audits, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO report said that CMS has failed to target health plans with "known improper payment risk", allowing the worst abusers to avoid scrutiny. .For those planning retirement however, it is the estimated dollar amount in Social Security benefits, not the replacement rate, that what one uses to determine a retirement budget, or how much more one will need to save for retirement. When one retires, it is the actual benefit amount, not the replacement rate that one must live on. One of the most frequent requests for services received by Social Security Administration is for an estimate of benefits. While no promises of benefits are made, millions of estimates are made annually. If the rules are changed abruptly, as they were for those born during the Notch period, this leaves no time to save for the shortfalls in benefits (if they can be foreseen ahead of time). … Continued

What is it going to cost? Is there a less expensive alternative? .The Social Security Expansion Act (S. 731), introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders (VT). Like the 2100 Act, this bill would adopt the CPI-E and create a new minimum benefit to keep retirees out of poverty. It would also provide the average beneficiary with a per month benefit increase – an amount that TSCL believes is fair and necessary. In last month's issue of TSCL's Advisor, Sen. Sanders wrote: "Poll after poll has shown the American public supports expanding Social Security. Its time Congress listens to the American people … not the Wall Street millionaires who want to cut it." .The tax credit, a provision of the 2009 stimulus legislation, was advanced to taxpayers in 2009 and 2010 through higher pay and pension checks by a decrease in federal income tax withholdings. Most eligible people qualified for a credit of up to 0 (individual) or 0 (joint). But millions of taxpayers through no fault of their own were advanced more of the Making Work Pay Tax Credit than they were entitled to. .President was expanding home and community-based care for the elderly and disabled and improving conditions for the poorly paid workers who give that care. .A draft of the order is circulating inside the government and was obtained by Bloomberg News. "It is critical that we reduce our dependence on foreign manufacturers for essential medicines, medical countermeasures" to "ensure sufficient and reliable long-term domestic manufacturing" that prevents shortages and supplies to "mobilize our nation's public health industrial base" when needed, says the nine-page draft. .Federal law requires that any reduction in payroll tax revenues going into the Social Security Trust Fund must be replaced dollar-for-dollar with general revenues from the U.S. Treasury. Consequently, a temporary extension of the payroll tax cut will have no effect on the Social Security Trust Fund. .Rapidly climbing prices for consumer goods and services are making financial choices for older adults especially challenging this year. But eventually, these higher prices might mean a higher Social Security cost of living adjustment (COLA) for next year. In the meantime, older consumers are struggling to figure out how to pay for. Buying Power of Social Security Benefits Wiped Out by Soaring Inflation An abrupt jump in inflation in February and March of this year wiped out a short-lived improvement in the buying power of Social Security benefits in 2020, according to TSCL's latest study on rising senior costs. The study, which compares the growth in the Social Security cost of living adjustments (COLA)s with increases in the. Are We Experiencing the Return of Inflation? , editor .In addition, one new cosponsor – Rep. William Keating (MA-9) – signed on to the Strengthening Social Security Act (H.R. 3118). The cosponsor total is now up to sixty-three. If signed into law, H.R. 3118 would reform the Social Security program in three ways: it would adjust the benefit formula, resulting in more generous monthly benefits; it would base COLAs upon the CPI-E, resulting in more accurate annual increases; and it would lift the cap on income subject to the payroll tax. The bill would extend the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund responsibly, without cutting benefits for seniors. .Many expected the Obama administration to seek an emergency review of the decision by the Supreme Court, but on Wednesday, the Justice Department announced that it would not. Instead, the administration said it will focus on another 5th Circuit hearing that's scheduled for the week of July 6th.