Legislators propose additional $200 in monthly Social Security benefits

The Social Security Expansion Act would give recipients an additional $200 per month in benefits. The bill has been submitted to the House of Representatives and the Senate, but has not been adopted.

In recent months, many VERIFY readers have reached out to the team with questions about potential changes to Social Security benefits in 2023.

Social Security gives people an income when they retire or are unable to work because of a disability. Those who are retired can typically receive their Social Security benefits as early as age 62.

VERIFY has already fact-checked one claim and confirmed that Social Security’s annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) is expected to be higher than average in 2023 due to inflation.

But could there be another increase in benefits on the way? Edward contacted the team to ask if a bill would bring Social Security recipients an additional $2,400 a year.

THE QUESTION

Would a bill give Social Security recipients an additional $2,400 a year in benefits?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is true.

Yes, a bill would give Social Security recipients an additional $2,400 per year in benefits. The bill has been tabled in both the House and Senate, but an expert told VERIFY it’s unlikely to pass in 2022.

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WHAT WE FOUND

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced the Social Security Expansion Act in both the House of Representatives and the Senate on June 9, 2022. The bill has been referred to various committees in the House and Senate for discussion, but Congress has yet to take any further action.

Mary Johnson, Social Security and Health Policy Analyst for the Senior Citizens League, told VERIFY that this kind of legislation “would be difficult to pass before the end of the year, and in a Congress as divisive as this.”

Social Security legislation requires a supermajority of 60 senators to pass the Senate, Johnson added.

When the 117th Congress officially ends on January 3, 2023, members of the next Congress would have to reintroduce any legislation not yet passed.

One of the provisions of the Social Security Expansion Act is a $200 monthly increase in Social Security benefits for new and existing recipients, separate from the annual cost of living adjustment (COLA), according to a fact sheet on the bill. That means recipients would see an additional $2,400 per year on average.

More from VERIFY: Yes, Social Security cost of living adjustment for 2023 is expected to be higher than average

The legislation as currently written would apply this increase to people receiving pensions, disability benefits and survivors’ Social Security benefits, but not those receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Johnson said. SSI is a needs-based program for people with limited income and limited resources.

Johnson explained that Social Security would use a “generous benefit formula” to provide the extra $200. The Social Security Administration (SSA) typically calculates benefits by averaging up to 35 years of an employee’s income, taking inflation into account.

The bill would also make other changes to Social Security, including an increase in annual COLAs by adopting a new instrument to measure inflation, the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E).

COLAs are currently calculated based on the percent increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and White-collar workers (CPI-W), an inflation gauge measured by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

If passed, the CPI-E would outweigh the “disproportionate amount” of money seniors spend on things like health care and prescription drugs, lawmakers say.

“Currently, the CPI-E is only a research tool, developed from assumptions about older Americans’ buying patterns from another consumer price index — the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U),” Johnson wrote in an email. .

The CPI-E will “need more senior-specific data than it does now” to calculate the COLA more accurately, Johnson added.

Johnson said even if this legislation isn’t passed, proponents of the bill believe it could still influence debate down the campaign path.

“This kind of legislation takes a lot of work to pass, and a lot of contact with members of Congress from people nearing retirement, seniors and their families,” she said.

More from VERIFY: No, Social Security recipients will not receive any bonus payment in September

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