Executive Director Sean Ferritor (at right) listens in as Chairman Johnson and Acting Social Security Commissioner Carolyn Colvin speak briefly after a hearing on Social Security Fraud in New York City.
The Seniors Coalition and Congress were shocked to learn of another, arguably more abhororent case of American's tax dollars being stolen by fraudulent disability claims. The most recent case involves former firefighters, policemen and even a former FBI employee. Sadly these thieves schemed the Social Security Administration (SSA) out of millions of dollars because they claimed their "disability" was caused as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City. Many had never even worked at Ground Zero.
Yet again, another year goes by and Congress continues to ignore the pressing issue of fixing the flawed Cost of Living Adjustment (CoLA) formula. Now senior citizens are out a stunning $2,954 that is missing from their average Social Security "base amount." This is unacceptable and The Seniors Coalition will continue to press Congress to fix this issue.
Last year, TSC made progress advancing the conversation about CoLA reform. Unfortunately, bigger issues that affect the entire country, like ObamaCare and the Debt Limit battles, drowned out TSC's efforts. "Last year," explains Executive Director Sean Ferritor, "our progress advancing this issue was stifled and side-lined by these bigger issues in Congress. Every member of Congress I spoke with last year promised to look into and tackle the issue of CoLA reform, but I could tell they were busy and were putting the issue onthe back-burner. This year I will hold them to their word."
United States Congressman Sam Johnson, Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security, recently held a hearing on Social Security fraud in Puerto Rico. More specifically, the hearing was on a scheme to defraud the Social Security Disability Insurance program out of millions of dollars using an ex-Social Security employee and a couple of rogue doctors.
This past year has been a very productive year for The Seniors Coalition. In addition to expanding our membership and our presence on Capitol Hill, TSC has had an impact on several inside-the-beltway decisions.
The Seniors Coalition was pleased that Congress heeded its advice to include a Cost-of-Living- Adjustment (CoLA) for Social Security beneficiaries in the 2014 budget, even if it was a paltry 1.5% increase. However, Seniors Coalition brass remains dismayed at the fact that Congress still does not realize how important the CoLA is for seniors across the nation. In 2013, TSC worked closely with Congressman Eliot Engel’s staff to garner support for H.R. 1585, The Guaranteed 3% CoLA Act, and continues to work with Congressman Engel in 2014. To date TSC has received 236,019 signed petitions in favor of a guaranteed 3% CoLA from supporters all over the country and expects that number to grow exponentially.
This month The Seniors Coalition is preparing to deliver 232,333 petition signatures supporting Social Security CoLA reform to the office of U.S. Representative Eliot Engel, who is sponsoring a measure to guarantee senior citizens an automatic 3% annual CoLA. The signatures were gathered as part of TSC's ongoing CoLA reform campaign.
"We support H.R. 1585 because this bill is the best way to finally get the Social Security CoLA fixed and to make sure retirees get a fair CoLA," says Executive Director Sean Ferritor, who plans to personally deliver the petitions. "These petitions came directly from TSC supporters who are fed up with the federal government playing games with their benefits."
During the Obama Administration Social Security CoLAs have been either scaled back or eliminated entirely sparking a massive backlash from senior citizens. "The price of goods and services that seniors regularly pay for has been going up, but CoLAs haven't been keeping pace," Ferritor explains. "That's why CoLA reform is one of our most important issues."
The big legislative news this month is the renewed focus on ObamaCare.
Each week I attend a meeting of the top conservative organizations in the nation and lately the hated health care law has dominated the discussion.
In the House we are supporting drives to both completely defund ObamaCare through the annual spending bill, and to strip the IRS of its powers to enforce it. The IRS bill, H.R. 2009 will probably get a vote on the House floor sometime in very early August. Fingers crossed we can get it passed!
In the Senate, things are rough. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and the rest of the go-along and to heck with the American people "Republicans" are actually blocking an effort to defund ObamaCare. It's ridiculous!
TSC is making it known that seniors want this law gone. They want the Medicare cuts restored and they won't sit idly by while "Republicans" side with Barack Obama. However, the instinct to do nothing and to try to curry favor with the White House is very, very strong. So, during August, when all the Senators are back home, be sure to try to visit your Senators' offices or see that a local event or town hall meeting. Tell them to defund ObamaCare.
That's all for this month. If you have any questions or comments about our legislative or grassroots lobbying program, please feel free to give me a call at 202-261-3594.
Sean Ferritor, The Seniors Coalition's Executive Director, joined Senator John Thune, Congressman Kevin Brady, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Americans for Tax Reform and a number of other members of Congress and key grassroots leaders to kick off a renewed effort to abolish the death tax.
Senator Thune and Congressman Brady have reintroduced Death Tax repeal bills in their respective chambers.
"This is a major organized effort to get rid of this tax," Ferritor says. "The press conference was well attended, and TSC is prepared to play our part to get rid of the Death Tax."