October 30, 2020
The Honorable Robert P. Casey
393 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Casey,
On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, I write to endorse your legislation, the “Fairness for Seniors and People with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act of 2020”, which protects retirees, survivors and people with disabilities from being forced to repay extra Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits they received because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
By way of background, it is our understanding that, beginning in March 2020, the Social Security Administration (SSA) made the completely appropriate decision not to reduce individuals’ Social Security and SSI benefits due to changing eligibility status or to recover the overpayments that derived from these changes. This policy protected beneficiaries from reductions of benefits during the pandemic but left unclear how SSA would handle these overpayments when the pandemic ends.
Your bill, the “Fairness for Seniors and People with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act of 2020”, answers this question. Under this legislation, beneficiaries would be relieved entirely from any liability to repay overpayments arising from changes in eligibility status during the COVID pandemic. This policy is especially appropriate in light of SSA’s decision not to inform beneficiaries of changes in their eligibility/payment status during the COVID pandemic. It would be especially unfair to require repayment of these overpayments since individuals would be informed of the changes that led to the overpayment and the amounts owed long after the changes had occurred.
We note that your legislation includes an additional important provision that relates to the eligibility of SSI beneficiaries to health care through Medicaid. Under this provision, beneficiaries who lose eligibility to SSI during the pandemic would be deemed to have retained eligibility to SSI for the purpose of preserving their eligibility to Medicaid. We support this provision and applaud your leadership in extending protections to these vulnerable individuals.
The National Committee supports the provisions included in your bill, and gladly endorses the “Fairness for Seniors and People with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act of 2020.” This bill represents a bold step in protecting both Social Security and SSI beneficiaries from the loss of benefits due to changes in eligibility standards that have occurred during the COVID pandemic.
We applaud your long history of protecting and enhancing Social Security, the cornerstone of retirement security for American workers, and look forward to working with you to enact this important legislation.
President and CEO