H.R. 5987: Seniors Protection Act

H.R. 5987

Seniors Protection Act

Date
December 8, 2010 (111th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

H.R. 5987 is expected to be considered on the House floor on Wednesday, December 8, 2010, under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage.  This legislation was introduced by Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) on July 30, 2010. 

Bill Summary

H.R. 5987 would provide a one-time payment of $250 to beneficiaries of Social Security, Supplementary Security Income, railroad retirement benefits, or veterans’ disability compensation in lieu of the Social Security Administration cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) would have been payable in 2011.  The legislation continues the one-time payment of $250 originally passed in the Democrats’ stimulus.

Member Concerns:  As the national debt nears $14 trillion, members may be concerned about spending an additional $14 billion on a one-time payment of $250 to a particular demographic that has faired statistically better than the rest of the economy.  According to Census Bureau data, the poverty rate increased for all Americans last year, but fell for people age 65 and older.

Finally, members should be aware that in 2009 Social Security beneficiaries received an unusually high 5.8 percent cost-of-living adjustment to their benefits.  The CPI-W (consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers) remains well below the 2008 period which is used to measure the COLA amounts for 2010 and 2011.

Background

The unusually high Social Security COLA increase of 5.8 percent in 2009 was mostly due to the increasing costs of food and energy costs in 2008.  However, due to the economic decline and the drop in energy prices, CPI-W dropped below the threshold for triggering an automatic adjustment in the COLA for 2010 and again in 2011.  The will be the second consecutive year without a cost-of-living adjustment.

Cost

There is currently no CBO score for H.R. 5987; however, similar bills providing a $250 one-time payment have received a cost estimate from CBO to the tune of nearly $14 billion.