March 27, 2009

Rhode Island Seniors to Get Boost From Recovery Bill

Vice President Announces Details of Social Security Payments

Washington, D.C. – Vice President Joe Biden has announced that seniors and disabled Americans currently on Social Security or SSI will begin receiving economic recovery payments of $250 each starting in May. In January, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) asked Senate leaders to consider a temporary increase in Social Security benefits as part of the economic recovery legislation, emphasizing that fixed incomes and reliance on costly prescription drugs make older and disabled Americans particularly vulnerable to economic downturns.

“For these hard-hit Americans, every dollar counts and some extra help from the federal government could make the difference between housing and homelessness, and between health and sickness,” Whitehouse wrote to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-IA) in January.

The final version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, as passed by Congress and signed by President Obama, included a provision to provide a one time increase in Social Security benefits. The payments will be made to eligible Social Security beneficiaries throughout the month of May. The extra funds will be sent automatically in addition to regular monthly payments.

In Rhode Island, more than 138,000 seniors received Social Security benefits in 2007, the most recent information available. Social Security benefits in 2007 averaged just $12,956 per recipient per year. These economic recovery payments will mean over $34 million in additional funds for the state’s seniors and disabled citizens, who are among the most likely to spend rather than save any additional income, helping further stimulate the economy.

Last year, Whitehouse successfully pushed for Social Security recipients to be included in legislation that provided rebate checks, starting at $300, to low- and middle-income Americans.
The tax-free rebates were sent automatically to eligible Americans who filed a federal income tax return for 2007. Because many Social Security and VA beneficiaries do not normally file a tax return and had to file a separate form to receive a rebate, Whitehouse pressed the IRS to extend its mid-October deadline to allow more people to file.


Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921