Statement On Emergency Senior Citizens Relief Act, Amendment #3353, To H.R. 4213, The Tax Extenders Act

Social Security represents a strong commitment to our nation’s seniors.  Ever since Ida May Fuller of Vermont received the first Social Security check issued, vulnerable seniors have had a safety-net to fall back on in retirement and to supplement individual retirement savings or pensions.  Nearly 70 percent of beneficiaries depend on Social Security for at least half of their income, and Social Security is the sole source of income for 15 percent of recipients.

Social Security is an immensely important program, one that has helped millions of Americans stay out of poverty once entering retirement.  While facing the rising costs of health care, food and fuel, Social Security has been a successful safety net for more than 70 years.  However, for the first time in its history, this year Social Security recipients will not receive a cost-of living adjustment (COLA) due to the economic deflation, rather than inflation, our economy experienced this past year. Since the COLA will not go into effect this year, Congress needs to act to ensure those who need it most will receive this essential benefit.

That is why I was proud to join Senator Sanders in cosponsoring the Emergency Senior Citizens Relief Act, which would provide all Social Security recipients, railroad retirees, SSI beneficiaries and adults receiving veterans’ benefits with a one-time additional check for $250 in 2010, similar to the payment beneficiaries received as a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed last year. Today, we have the opportunity to include this important emergency relief in legislation aimed at helping all struggling Americans. This amendment represents our continued commitment to providing a safety net to our nation’s seniors and those with disabilities in this uncertain economy.  

I urge my fellow Senators to support the Sanders amendment. 

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