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Fourth stimulus check: will a payment be sent to those receiving social security benefits?

Senior Citizens League pushes Congress to pass a fourth stimulus check for those on social security who have seen their disposable incomes plummet this year.

Senior Citizens League pushes Congress to pass a fourth stimulus check for those on social security who have seen their disposable incomes fall this year.

While the chances of a fourth stimulus check being sent to the millions of households that received the first three are dwindling, support for a new more targeted check is gaining popularity at the grassroots level.

The Senior Citizens League (SCL), an organization that advocates for the rights of seniors argue that the federal government should send $1,400 to Social Security beneficiaries who have seen their disposable incomes plummet during the pandemic.

For many of the more than 64 million people who receive Social Security, the benefits are their only source of income. This figure represents one in every six Americans and four out of five seniors.

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To understand how seniors, particularly those dependent on Social Security benefits have faired during the pandemic, the SCL conducted a survey where they asked seniors to report on their spending habits and economic concerns.

The results were alarming.

During the survey, a quarter of seniors reporting seeking aid from a food bank because they were unable to afford groceries as prices surged. Mary Johnson, a policy analyst with SCL described this as “highly disturbing” and said that it exemplified “the dire situation faced by households of those who depend on Social Security for most of their income when food prices jump into overdrive.”

While a Cost-of-living-adjustment will be announced next month, with many believing it could be historic in size, advocates don’t believe that it will solve the problem.

A $1,400 check could help cover housing, medical, and nutritional costs, and give many households a chance to bring their heads above water.  It would also alleviate some of the pain in stress present for many seniors, of which twenty-five percent reported going without food to make their incomes last them the entire month.

Why is the fourth stimulus for seniors needed?

To receive these benefits, one cannot work, making their income fixed. During the pandemic, supply chains broke down, causing bottlenecks that limited the supply of goods, leading to an increase in price.

The prices for basic goods -- food, gas, clothing are all up significantly over their pre-pandemic levels and seniors are starting to feel the pain.

Earlier this month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report showing that over the last year, the Consumer Price Index for “all items index increased 5.3 percent before seasonal adjustment.” For food, people are on average 3 percent more than they were a year ago, as for other goods, the trends are just as worrisome.

Will the measure be taken up by Congress?

To garner support and attention, the SCL launched a petition which has gained over one million signatures. The petition reads “I (and/or my spouse) want Social Security recipients to receive a $1,400.00 emergency stimulus check to cope during this unprecedented inflationary year. Social Security benefits are one of the few types of income in retirement adjusted for inflation.”

It also argues that the COLA increases are not sufficient, saying, “In 2021 Social Security benefits increased by just 1.3 percent raising the average benefit by only about $20 a month. But about 86 percent of Social Security recipients surveyed say their expenses increased by much more than that amount.”

To date, no lawmakers have responded to the petition or brought up the measure. As negotiations over infrastructure, the reconciliation bill, and the debt ceiling suck up all the air in the Capitol, it is unlikely this measure makes it onto the legislative agenda.