Congress is Working on Your Social Security

By February 10, 2015Benefits
US capitol building

source: Bjoertvedt via wikimedia commons

Our lawmakers have to be very specific when they write laws because they know that many people will look for an easy way around them.

When laws get more complicated and more specific, navigating the system can be difficult. Sometimes tasks that should be easy are made needlessly hard.  No matter who you are, you should have access to the rules in a way that you can understand.

What is happening in Congress?

We feel strongly that people should know how members of congress are making decisions on our behalf. Let’s take a look at some of the laws that have been passed and some of the laws that may be passed soon. We’ll focus on how these laws affect the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Some of the laws that have been passed already are:

  • HR 152 – This was a bill that added a little over $50 billion to be used towards hurricane Sandy relief.  Some of that money went to the SSA, but only for Sandy relief.
  • HJ Resolution 59 – This law partially amended Medicare.  The law updated payment for physicians by .5%.
  • HR 83 – This gives complete funding to the Social Security Administration through 2015.
  • The ABLE Act (HR 5771) -ABLE created a new type of savings account that is tax free for people with disabilities and their families. It allows people to save without those savings counting against Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid coverage.

Also, last year’s congress also confirmed new members of the Social Security Advisory Board.  Henry J. Aaron, who will be serving as the Chair of the board, Lanhee J. Chen, and Alan L. Cohen.

Your voice counts.

As of January 3rd, 2015 we have a new Congress in Washington DC.  And as always, a new Congress means new laws, one of which is HR 185.  HR 185 is designed to “revise and expand federal rulemaking requirements” (Wording can be found here).  In other words, the bill would require all federal agencies – the Social Security Administration included – to base all new rules they might make on facts and evidence.  It would also require agencies to consider current laws that new rules might effect.  Under this new law federal agencies would have to publish proposed new rules that may negatively impact the economy, before enacting them.  HR 185 is currently waiting Senate approval, and the White House has threatened to veto.

Carolyn W. Colvin who has been the acting Commissioner of Social Security since 2013, was nominated by President Obama to permanently fill that role.  In September of 2014, the Senate Finance Committee approved the nomination and she is currently awaiting approval by the full Senate.

Both HR 185 and the Ms. Colvin’s nomination are an opportunity to let your Senators know your opinion.  You can call, email or write Senator Mike Lee and Senator Orrin Hatch to share your thoughts and opinions.