Congressional Corner July 2017
The announcement comes as the Super-Committee members consider how much savings should come from tax cuts versus spending cuts. If the committee cannot come to an agreement by the November 23rd deadline, across-the-board budget cuts will occur. . It's a seldom-acknowledged fact. Yet it has growing repercussions for U.S. senior citizens. Immigrants who worked here illegally can claim Social Security benefits based on those illegal earnings. Illegal workers often supply employers with fake, or invalid, Social Security numbers (SSNs) that are not authorized for work. When the Social Security Administration receives wage reports under a name and/or SSN that does not match the records, the wage reports accumulate in an "Earnings Suspense File." Later, the illegal worker can file a claim for benefits based on those earnings if he or she can show evidence (like a W2) of employment and earnings. .Premium support by itself is no shoo-in for cutting federal spending. In fact, the track record is pretty messy. The costs for Medicare Part D have been lower than originally projected. Competition between Part D drug plans seems to be working, for now, to keep costs down both for the government and for some seniors — particularly those who carefully shop and compare drug plans each year. … Continued
Rx Surprise Medical Bills
At Wednesday's hearing, key witnesses made several recommendations for improving the process. Sita Nataraj Slavov – Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University – suggested that SSA stop using the term "retirement age" since it suggests that individuals should claim benefits immediately after they stop working. She also recommended that SSA begin referring to age 70 as the "full" retirement age since it is the age at which benefits are the highest. In addition, William Meyer of Social Security Solutions, Inc. suggested that SSA notify individuals of the annual difference in benefits they would receive if they delayed filing for one year. .Continuing Resolution Debate Grows Complex .With about 1 million supporters, The Senior Citizens League is one of the nation's largest nonpartisan seniors groups. Located just outside Washington, D.C., its mission is to promote and assist members and supporters, to educate and alert senior citizens about their rights and freedoms as U.S. Citizens, and to protect and defend the benefits senior citizens have earned and paid for. The Senior Citizens League is a proud affiliate of TREA The Enlisted Association. Please visit or call 1-800-333-8725 for more information. … Continued
One of TSCL's top priorities again this year is for legislation to reduce the costs of prescription drugs. It is outrageous that we in the United States pay some of the highest prices in the developed world for the prescription drugs that we urgently need to preserve our health. .Fixing this problem seems to be more complicated than passing a continuing resolution to temporarily fund the government. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has made it known that no Republican Senators will support raising the debt ceiling and without Republican support Democrats will have to resort to a special procedure called "reconciliation" in order to pass it because of the Senate filibuster rule. In the past there has been partisan squabbling over raising the debt ceiling but when it came right down to it both sides ended up voting to raise it. We'll find out very soon whether that will happen this time. .This week, lawmakers involved in talks to permanently repeal and replace the SGR revealed that a temporary pay-patch will likely be necessary. Those serving on three committees – the House Ways and Means Committee, the Energy and Commerce Committee, and the Senate Finance Committee – have successfully negotiated a legislative compromise, but they've been struggling for weeks to come up with offsets that will cover the cost of the 8.4 billion bill. .Where do you want to live and how will you get around? Do you plan to stay where you are, move to senior housing, or someday move in with family? Is it cheaper to rent or to buy? If you own a home, will your financial plan cover the annual maintenance and inevitable upkeep and repairs such as painting or replacing a roof? Will you have access to public transportation if you can no longer drive or afford a vehicle? Look for local workshops that review the types of housing options in your area for people over 60. .Sources: "Social Security The Notch Issue," GAO-HRD-88-62, March 1988, page 1Financial Management, Challenges in Meeting Requirements of the Improper Payments Information Act, GAO-05-417, March 200"Annual Statistical Survey 2004, Social Security Administration, Table 5.A.1. .Get signed up for Medicare now in order to have your coverage start the month you turn 65! .This week, lawmakers returned to Capitol Hill following a week-long holiday recess, and four Members of Congress signed on as cosponsors to key legislation that would make the Social Security program more equitable for public employees. .Former doughnut hole coverage gap: After spending the initial coverage amount of ,005, you are responsible for 25% co-insurance for both generic and brand name drugs, plus a portion of the pharmacy dispensing fee which is approximately $$Your drug plan pays 75% of the cost of generic drugs and 5% on brand-name drugs. The drug manufacturer provides a 70% discount on brand-name drugs. Your total costs in this stage could run as high as ,345 between the end of the Initial Coverage Period and the Catastrophic stage of coverage begins. Altogether, beneficiaries could be responsible for as much as ,350 in TrOOP, which includes the drug costs paid by the beneficiary and the 70% discount on brand-name drugs provided by the drug manufacturer. Payments made by the drug plan DO NOT count TrOOP costs. .If you have questions about your coverage, Medicare beneficiaries can get free one-on-one counseling from State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) counselors by contacting your local Area Agency on Aging or senior center. The programs go by different names depending on your location, but SHIP contact info can be found at https://www.shiptacenter.org.