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Larson Holds Hearing on COVID-19 Effects on Social Security

July 17, 2020
Press Release
Highlights Bill to Prevent Benefit Cuts, Expand Benefits

Hartford, CT – Today, House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman John B. Larson (CT-01) held a hearing on The Impact of COVID-19 on Social Security and its Beneficiaries. During the hearing he highlighted his bill, H.R. 7499, the Social Security COVID Correction and Equity Act, which would prevent a significant cut in Social Security benefits for more than 4 million Americans due to the recession from COVID-19. The bill would also expand Social Security benefits for those most in need during the pandemic.

Click here to watch the hearing.

“Due to the pandemic and its unprecedented effect on the economy, more than 4 million Americans who turn 60 this year, including 54,000 people in Connecticut, could see a harmful cut to their benefits. We held today’s hearing to sound the alarm. Congress needs to act urgently to address this issue,” said Chairman Larson.

“That’s why I introduced the Social Security COVID Correction and Equity Act with Chairman Richard Neal and my colleagues. Our bill will ensure no one’s benefits will be cut due to a recession now or in the future.  Additionally, the legislation would expand benefits, which will help those most in need during this pandemic: seniors, women, people of color, and people with disabilities. Current Social Security benefits are modest. Expanding them will help Americans get through this crisis and pave a path forward for permanent benefit expansion.

“We cannot wait to act. Americans need this help now!”

Testimonies from the hearing:

“As a former recipient of Social Security survivors’ benefits, I am keenly aware of how vital these benefits are to the economic well-being and stability of families. I remember how important it was for me to receive survivor benefits, when my father passed away from a chronic respiratory illness one month after I started college as a freshman at Clark College,” testified Melanie Campbell, President & CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and Convener, Black Women’s Roundtable.  “During this pandemic, the current Social Security benefits are not enough to keep Americans, who are suffering and struggling to make ends meet, from avoiding life beneath the poverty line. But these inequities do not have to stay this way. Congress can address these systemic racial and gender inequalities through the Social Security system.”

“Today, I stand by here with my colleagues asking for Congress to do more to address the COVID19 crisis as a whole and to address the needs of our most vulnerable seniors, nuestros viejitos, as they leave, or sometimes, are forced out of the workforce…. We can no longer wait, we need action now, as COVID-19 has exacerbated many historical, socioeconomic, and policy factors that have exploited communities of color and are finally meeting at a nexus with the current health crisis,” testified Abigail Zapote, Executive Director, Latinos for a Secure Retirement.

“Right now it’s important to remember that Social Security benefits are helping to keep our economy afloat. Seniors spend their benefits on housing, on food, on medicine, and that puts $1 trillion into our economy every year. That spending on essential items doesn’t stop even during a pandemic. Older Americans are also a critical part of the workforce. Nearly a quarter of retail employees are 55 or older and seven percent are over 65. Some have lost their jobs to the coronavirus recession or are still on the job risking their health. One of the answers to this crisis is Social Security expansion. We needed it before the pandemic, and we especially need it now,” testified Robert Roach, Jr., President, Alliance for Retired Americans.

“Over nine million veterans receive Social Security benefits – either retirement or disability – accounting for 18 percent of all adult beneficiaries while, together, veterans and their families comprise 35 percent of the Social Security recipient population. While the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system of health care and compensation benefits is the gold standard for veterans with service-connected disabilities, it is Social Security that offers a more comprehensive system of supports not only for the broader population of veterans themselves but their spouses, dependents, and survivors,” testified Shaun Castle, Deputy Executive Director, Paralyzed Veterans of America. “PVA also appreciates the Chairman’s effort to address an unforeseen consequence of the economic downturn that could have dramatic and long-lasting adverse effects on millions of Social Security beneficiaries.”

“H.R. 7499, the ‘Social Security COVID Correction and Equity Act,’ introduced by Chairman John Larson, makes improvements to both Social Security and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program that are of historic importance, and which strengthen the benefits provided by these two programs as they assume even greater importance during the COVID pandemic. The National Committee supports the programmatic improvements made in Chairman Larson’s legislation and applauds him for his leadership in strengthening both the Social Security and SSI programs,” testified Max Richtman, President and CEO, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

For more on H.R. 7499, see here.