Democrats to push for $250 Social Security payment

chart_social_security.top.gif By Charles Riley, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- When House Democrats return to Washington on Monday, a top priority will be putting a $250 dollar check in the mail to 58 million Social Security recipients.

Democrats plan to vote early in the lame-duck session on a bill that would provide Social Security recipients with a one-time payment, according to the office of Earl Pomeroy, a Democrat from North Dakota who authored the legislation.

The bill -- with a total cost of roughly $14 billion -- is designed to make up for another year without an increase in Social Security benefits.

In October, the federal government announced that Social Security beneficiaries will see no increase in their benefit checks in 2011. That will mark the second year in a row with no increase.

The last time there was an inflation adjustment was in 2009: Social Security beneficiaries got a higher-than-normal 5.8% increase because of a temporary spike in energy prices in the third quarter of 2008.

Soon after, however, energy prices plummeted. Then the bottom fell out of the economy and prices still haven't fully recovered. As a result, seniors haven't seen a boost in their benefits for two years.

By law, the Social Security Administration is required to track inflation using the most recent third quarter that led to an adjustment. But critics argue that by using only one quarter of data, the change in benefits is more volatile than necessary.

Advocates for the bill say it would help the economy as well as individual recipients.

"This relief will put money in the pockets of millions of older Americans struggling to make ends meet -- money likely to be injected directly into our fragile economy," AARP Senior Vice President Drew Nannis said in a prepared statement.

Earlier this year, the Senate rejected a bill similar to Pomeroy's that would have resulted in a one-time $250 payment to compensate for last year's stagnant Social Security benefit rate.

Republicans and deficit conscious Democrats combined to bring the bill down, and if this year's version passes in the House, it would face the same challenge in the Senate. To top of page

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