August 06, 2010

American Stories: Social Security Successes

The Alliance has received a great response to its American Stories Project, a compilation of anecdotes about how Social Security has impacted members’ lives, or the lives of a family member; neighbor or friend. The compilation is a lead-up to celebrations for Social Security’s 75th birthday next Saturday; to see events in your area, go to Barbara Owenof Massachusetts, for example, told us: “I’ve paid into [Social Security] since I was 16 years old, and now, although I also have a small pension and (presently) a part-time job, it helps to keep a roof over my own head.” You can check out other inspiring responses here: .  If you have a story to share, please submit it here:, or submit photos or videos by email to

A new study by the Center for Economic Policy and Research provides evidence of the potentially disastrous consequences of proposals to raise the retirement age to 69, with findings that millions of older Americans work in physically demanding occupations. The link to the press release, which links to the study, is here:

Senate Passes Bill to Fund Medicaid, Avoid Teacher Layoffs

The Senate gave quick approval on Thursday to H.R. 1586, a $26.1 billion fiscal aid package to help state and local governments provide health care through Medicaid and avoid threatened layoffs, including tens of thousands of public school teachers next month.  The 61-39 roll call sets the stage for final action in the House next week.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced on Wednesday that she was calling Members back to Washington to take up the bill, which Democrats are championing as a key legislative victory they can tout back home next week, before the midterm elections. Two Republican Senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, joined Democrats in passing the measure.  A complete tally of the vote is available at The bill would extend programs enacted in last year’s economic stimulus package – cash-strapped governors are promised $16.1 billion to help pay Medicaid bills next year, and $10 billion will be distributed to state and local school boards to address the more immediate threat of teacher layoffs.  The Medicaid dollars boost Washington’s contribution under the federal medical assistance percentages (FMAP) that dictate the shared costs for Medicaid, the chief health care program for the low-income and disabled.  The measure builds on last year’s giant recovery act, which boosted the base federal payment by 6.2% and made further adjustments depending on a state’s unemployment rate. “States are facing dangerous shortfalls, so this money came just in time,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.

Health Care Law Strengthens Medicare, Trustees Report Finds

The Medicare and Social Security trust fund report came out on Thursday and found that the health care reform law has strengthened Medicare’s financial condition, with the program expected to remain solvent for an additional 12 years. Specifically, the new report says that Medicare will be able to fully pay its bills until 2029, compared with last year’s forecast of 2017.  Also due to the impact of health reform, beneficiaries’ Medicare premiums and cost sharing will be reduced. In addition, the trustees say that Medicare’s shortfall over the next 75 years – a time frame that the trustees are required under law to consider – has decreased substantially, from nearly 4 percent of taxable payroll in last year’s report to less than 1 percent. “The new health care law includes a groundbreaking number of reforms that will modernize the Medicare delivery system, making the program a smarter purchaser of health care that rewards value over volume,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. Trustees reported that Social Security will remain solvent through 2037, the same year as was forecast in 2009.

Rep. Pomeroy Aims to Make Sure Social Security Recipients Get $250 if no COLA

Last Friday, the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) introduced H.R. 5987, The Seniors Protection Act of 2010.  The bill would assist 57 million American seniors, retired veterans, and disabled individuals on Social Security with a one-time $250 payment that they would receive in the event that no inflation adjustment for 2011 is announced this Fall.  Six in ten seniors rely on Social Security for more than half of their income.  The annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) is determined automatically according to a formula which has been in the law since 1975.  “Seniors are struggling to get by.  $250 may not seem like much on Wall Street, but to retirees on Main Street it could be what allows them to pay their electric bill or buy groceries.  We must make sure Social Security meets today’s basic needs,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance.

Wisconsin Spotlight

Wisconsin Alliance Executive Director Billy Feitlinger was recently honored by the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups (CWAG) with the Alfred Hirsch Award for Outstanding Work as a Legislative Advocate.  He received this award with his friend, David Newby, the President of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO.  Newby and Feitlinger were honored together for their outstanding leadership and lifetime service as advocates on behalf of working Americans.  Wisconsin Alliance member Judy Burnick said, “Under their leadership, working together, the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO and the Wisconsin ARA have formed a firm partnership to protect the health and economic security of seniors that rewards work, strengthens families and builds thriving communities. Both David and Billy are examples of what leaders in this movement should strive to be.”  Feitlinger and the Wisconsin Alliance continue to criss-cross the state educating Wisconsin residents on the new health reform law and Medicare, as well as mobilizing support to protect Social Security. More here:

Retirees with the Write Stuff: Write Letter, Win Pen

“Retirees with the Write Stuff” is a project recognizing retirees whose letters to the editor are published.  Most recently, Sam Burnett, Barbara Davis, Mary Harshfield, Jan Howe, Don Jensen, Mary Lewis, Donna McGrath, Steve Neal, Bill Stevens, and Martin Walshcontributed to their state and local papers.  If you have had a letter published recently, please email us at so that we can recognize you and send you a “Write Stuff” pen.

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