A statement from EPI Vice President Ross Eisenbrey
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday said they would work to introduce a bill granting a one-time $250 supplemental payment to Social Security recipients, who will receive no cost of living increase in 2011, for the second year in a row.
EPI applauds Pelosi and Reid’s efforts, which would help provide additional income to millions of seniors who live on fixed incomes and often face rising Medicare costs. The average retiree’s annual Social Security benefit is a less-than-modest $14,000, an amount less than minimum wage. Three and a half million seniors are living below the poverty level, even with Social Security. A one-time supplement of $250 would provide assistance for seniors struggling to pay for basic necessities, and would also serve as valuable economic stimulus.
EPI research has shown that one of the most effective components of the 2009 Recovery Act was the $250 lump-sum payments that went to recipients of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Because these Social Security and SSI payment were quickly spent, they stimulated local economies and likely boosted GDP by roughly 0.5% in the second quarter of 2009. That translates to about 125,000 jobs created or saved due to these payments.
We are pleased that Sen. Reid and Speaker Pelosi recognize the need of many seniors for supplemental assistance, and the great economic value that granting a modest supplement would provide.