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2021 Federal Legislation News

S 4986 / HR 7499 Social Security Covid-19 Correction and Equity Act

Federal Bills S 4986 and HR 7499 are listed in the 116th Congress. and support Dignity Alliance MA Goal 3: Home and Community-Based Supports and Services improvement and expansion of opportunities. DAM has endorsed this legislation.

Points:

  • A precipitous drop in wages in 2020 could inadvertently lower Social Security benefits for one cohort.
  • Whether or not that will happen depends on the average wage index, or AWI, which is still in flux as new data is expected.
  • While the decline may not be as steep due to an improving economy, experts say Congress should still make a fix that prevents benefits from being reduced.

This bill prevents an unintended and unanticipated devastating cut to Social Security benefits for those who turn 60 in 2020, and expands benefits for those who need it most during COVID who have faced long term systemic economic inequalities. 

As a result of the COVID-19 economic crisis, aggregate wages are predicted to drop dramatically for 2020. Because of how Social Security benefits are calculated, this will reduce Social Security benefits for everyone who turns 60 this year (born in 1960), creating a “notch” – that is, sharply lower benefits for one group of retirees compared to those received by people just one year before them.  Those affected will receive a significantly reduced benefit for their entire life unless this is fixed.  

“No one could have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic, especially not in 1977 when the Social Security benefit formula was created. Through no fault of their own, more than 4 million Americans will lose out on the Social Security benefits they’ve earned, because of an unexpected drop in the Average Wage Index used to calculate benefits. For a median earner born in 1960, this could mean a reduction of $2,000 a year for the rest of their life”