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Senior Citizen Politics

National Council on Aging Tells Congress to Protect Social Security, Medicare

If Congress fails to increase the debt limit key payments to seniors may not be made

Oct. 14, 2013 – The National Council on Aging (NCOA) joined the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO) in strongly urging Congress to end the government shutdown and extend the debt limit to December 2014, without putting at risk the Social Security, Medicare, and other benefits that millions of older Americans need to "stay healthy, independent, and secure."

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, there are two key upcoming dates on which Medicare and Social Security payments need to be made:

   • Oct. 23: About $12 billion in Social Security benefit payments;

   • Nov. 1: About $67 billion in Social Security benefit payments; payments to Medicare Part D (prescription drug) and Part C Medicare Advantage plans (about 25% of beneficiaries are enrolled in these plans); benefit payments for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients (including about 2 million low-income seniors), civil service and military retirees, and veterans; and pay for active-duty members of the military.

If Congress fails to increase the debt limit, these payments likely will not be made, causing significant financial hardship for millions of older Americans, particularly those in greatest need.

Almost half (46%) of unmarried seniors rely on their Social Security checks for 90% or more of their income. SSI recipients generally have annual incomes below $8,760.

Recent analysis also found that older adults’ retirement account balances could fall by more than 20% if the debt ceiling is not raised. (Retirement Savings Will Suffer if Congress Does Not End the Budget and Debt Ceiling Stalemate, American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries, October 2013).

Failure to increase the debt ceiling would be the height of irresponsibility. It is shocking that some members of Congress are willing to risk economic catastrophe for families and the nation in order to push their extreme political agenda. 

As the government shutdown drags on, among the most notable disruptions for older adults are deficient resources for critical, life-preserving programs, including home-delivered and congregate meals, in-home support services, long-term care ombudsman, and elder abuse prevention programs, as well as energy assistance, flu and other disease monitoring, state and federal nursing home surveyors and oversight, food safety inspections, and much more.

The price for Congress to do its job and end the government shutdown should not be locking in harmful sequester cuts and denying access to basic health insurance to Americans who are uninsured. Now it also appears that cutting Medicare and Social Security, and shifting more costs onto seniors, will be the ransom demanded for avoiding financial meltdown. Responsible legislators must reject these threats to older Americans and reopen the government and raise the debt limit immediately. 

About NCOA  

The National Council on Aging is a nonprofit service and advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, DC. NCOA’s mission is to improve the lives of millions of older adults, especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged. NCOA is a national voice for older Americans and the community organizations that serve them. It brings together nonprofit organizations, businesses, and government to develop creative solutions that improve the lives of all older adults. NCOA works with thousands of organizations across the country to help seniors find jobs and benefits, improve their health, live independently, and remain active in their communities. | |

   • National Council on Aging

   • Leadership Council of Aging Organizations


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