• Tscl Member Remembers

    This week, House and Senate lawmakers remained in their home states and districts for a week-long spring break. They are expected to return to Capitol Hill on Monday, March 25th. Until then, many Members of Congress will be hosting town hall meetings and attending events in their home states and districts. .As a proud affiliate of TREThe Enlisted Association, and because many of TSCL supporters are military retirees we keep a close eye on the health benefits of military retirees. .The Social Security Trustees further estimate that .9 billion in revenues in 2020 would come from the taxation of Social Security benefits. "Yet those revenues are also likely to be lower, impacted by both large numbers of older Americans who lost income from jobs, as well as from lower distributions from retirement accounts that have lost value from last year," Johnson notes. Under the CARES Act, retirees are allowed to completely waive required minimum distributions for 2020 from retirement accounts. … Continued

  • Weekly Update For Week Ending August 14 2020

    This week TSCL has been focused on two issues we are very concerned about. The first is the payroll tax cut that we told you about last week. As a reminder, President Trump has said he wants a payroll tax cut in the next financial relief legislation Congress develops in response to the coronavirus. TSCL opposes that because it would further damage the financial well-being of the Social Security and Medicare programs. Both programs already need fixing because the lack of financial resources in the coming years may result cutting benefits to seniors. In fact, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is among Congressional leaders who have already called for that, although they don't call it cutting benefits, they say there is a need to "reign in the costs" of the programs. .However, MA insurers have already begun taking steps to reduce their costs in order to account for the cuts from CMS. As was noted in last week's legislative update, UnitedHealth – one of the largest MA plan providers – has dropped thousands of doctors from its networks, leaving many seniors doctor-less. It expects its physician network to be 85 percent of its pre-Obamacare size by the end of this year. TSCL is concerned that additional cuts to MA in 2015 will harm beneficiaries in other ways, by driving up premiums and reducing benefits. .Many in Congress have been outspoken about the potential cuts. Last week, a bipartisan group of forty Senators sent a letter to CMS urging administrators to maintain current payment rates in order to protect seniors from potential benefit disruptions. TSCL has also been expressing its concerns to lawmakers, and we will continue to keep a close eye on the issue in the coming weeks. For updates, visit the Legislative News section of our website. … Continued

Starting a new medication can sometimes take you by surprise when drug plans don't cover the drug or charge higher co-pays than you can afford. If you're having trouble covering the cost of your medicine, here are some things to try: .Citizenship is not a requirement to claim Social Security benefits. Undocumented immigrants who, at some point, receive even temporary work authorization, and who also receive a valid SSN, may eventually claim Social Security benefits if other qualifications are met, according to the Congressional Research Service. .The battle between spending cuts versus revenue increases continues to be the largest point of contention between the two sides. Democrats are pushing a one-to-one ratio, contending that Congress has already outlined enough spending cuts in the debt limit increase law. If the Super Committee cannot come to a compromise by the deadline, mandated across-the-board budget cuts will occur. .The wage reports held in the Social Security Earnings Suspense file also represent a huge hidden time bomb for Social Security and Medicare. Under current Social Security policy, all earnings, even if based on illegal work, are used to determine entitlement to benefits. If at some point an illegal worker gains valid work authorization, as he or she would under an "amnesty" or a Totalization agreement, and can produce proof of earnings like old W2s, those earnings would be reinstated to their new Social Security account. Eventually the individual could file a claim for benefits that might be based, at least in part, on illegal work. .To get information about Medicare supplement premiums, first select the plan offering the coverage you are interested in, "A" through "N". You can find a listing of these plans on page 82 of the 2017 Medicare & You handbook but not all states will have all plans. Once you have chosen the plan then you can simply compare premiums between insurers. The coverage for each type of plan is just the same, but premiums between various insurers can vary tremendously. .This week, one new cosponsor – Rep. Robert Scott (VA-3) – signed on to Rep. Peter DeFazio's (OR-4) Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers (CPI-E) Act (H.R. 1030). The cosponsor total is now up to ten. If signed into law, Rep. DeFazio's bill would base the Social Security COLA upon the spending patterns of seniors. Currently, it is based upon the way young, urban workers spend their money – a method that underestimates the spending inflation that seniors experience. A study conducted by TSCL in 2012 found that seniors have lost 34 percent of their purchasing power since 2000 – a clear sign that the current COLA is growing too slowly. .The following Members of Congress, among many others, will be holding town hall meetings in the final days of this week's recess: Sen. Charles Grassley (IA), Rep. Lynn Jenkins (KS-2), Rep. Tom MacArthur (NJ-3), Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-2), Rep. Bruce Westerman (AR-4), Rep. Will Hurd (TX-23), Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1), Rep. Jim Langevin (RI-2), and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-5). .Congress last year expanded this program in the healthcare reform act, or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which was signed into law in March 20The PPACA expanded "means testing" to Medicare Part D, and froze the income thresholds at which beneficiaries become subject to the "means test" at the 2010 levels through 201This year, depending on income, individuals who make more than ,000 and couples who make more than 0,000 will have to pay from .10 - 3.70 extra per month for their Part B premiums, and from .10 to .10 extra per month for their Part D premiums in 2011. .TSCL will be keeping a close eye on the budget discussions in the weeks ahead since a government shutdown could impact the Social Security and Medicare programs negatively. We will post updates here in the Legislative News section of our website, or over on our Facebook page.