Fourth stimulus check live updates: Social Security increase, Medicare enrollment, Child Tax Credit...

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COMMENT

Headlines

- Lawmakers returned to Washington to work on Build Back Better legislation

- A look back at Social Security COLA increases over the years.

- The Great Resignation: Why are Americans quitting their jobs at record-high numbers?

- Next legislative deadline 31 October 2021 to pass infrastructure bill

- Social Security Administration announces 5.9% COLA for 2022, the largest in 39 years

- Calls for a fourth stimulus check for seniors emerge.

- Fed tapering and the impacts on a new stimulus check

Useful Information & Links

Child Tax Credit

- IRS begins distributing the fourth Child Tax Credit payment

Medicare and Medicaid

- Which states cover dental services as a part of Medicaid?

- An overview of Parts A, B, C, and D of Medicare.

- Does Medicare cover hearing aids or eye exams?

- What if I miss the Medicare deadline?

Social Security

- What happens if you don't work 35 years for Social Security?

- What is the maximum amount of money that can be claimed on Social Security in 2022?

- How are Social Security credits calculated?

Read through some of our related news articles:

SOCIAL SECURITY

How can I see my Social Security statement online?

Social Security is paid for by the monthly contributions made by hundreds of millions of Americans and it provides financial support designed to help retirees and peoples with disabilities.

As a general rule, the higher your salary the larger your Social Security contributions will be. This means that the size of your entitlement from the Social Security Administration (SSA) will also vary. Here's how to request a Social Security Statement, informing you of how big your monthly payments will be...

Read more

US NEWS

Will Social Security beneficiaries get a fourth stimulus check?

The idea of a fourth stimulus check for every eligible American - like those issued throughout the covid 19 pandemic - appears to have disappeared, with President Biden focused instead on the American Rescue Plan and an enhanced Child Tax Credit. That said, there is a possibility that a more targeted payment could still be made to a certain group of American citizens, and they're pushing for that to happen.

Read more

Pelosi pushes for Child Tax Credit expansion in spending bill

Key Democrats are continuing to advocate for greater federal government in the form of the huge reconciliation package that President Biden is trying to find support for in Congress. 

In a press release issued last month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed: "The Child Tax Credit is our focus.  It’s making a big difference.  But what also is happening in terms of the Rescue package – which was exactly that, a rescue, mostly related to COVID.  Now, we go into the future, beyond COVID."

SOCIAL SECURITY

How many numbers are in a Social Security Number?

Every Social Security Number is unique, and the agency has issued around 450 million cards since the programs was created in 1935. With a tweak to the numbering scheme a decade ago, the unique combination of digits will be able to continue to issue new numbers for at least another 50 years.

Read more

Sen. Brown: Child Tax Credit encourages parents back to work

The fate of President Biden's Build Back Better agenda hangs in the balance in Washington, as he looks desperately to convince the vital moderate Democrats to approve the trillions of spending he has proposed. Central to those negotiations is the Child Tax Credit expansion, which he wants to extend through 2025 but Sen. Manchin and Sen. Sinema appear unwilling to support. 

SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS

How have Social Security benefits in 2022 changed with respect previous years?

Social Security recipients will see the largest increase to their benefits in 40 years after the Administration announced a higher-than-normal cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2022. The 5.9 percent COLA in 2022 was larger than the previous record increase in 2008 when benefits got a 5.8 percent bump.

The Social Security Administration calculates the COLA based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). This process of bringing benefits in line with rising wages and cost of consumer goods was designed to protect workers’ benefits and the Trust Funds to which they contribute.

Read more here

House to vote on infrastructure bill before Glasgow climate meeting

President Biden has met with Dems to announce that there will be a vote on passing the infrastructure bill before the end of the month, to coincide with his visit to Glasgow for the COP26 climate summit.

If the bill does not get passed in time, then the US will have no legislation to back up its talk of preventing climate catastrophe. China has already pledged to stop the building of new coal plants in China and abroad as it seeks to take the global lead in the fight against climate change.

Biden: "We need to get this infrastructure bill done"

US NEWS

Who controls gas prices in the United States? How can the price of gas go down?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that last month consumers paid on average forty-two percent more on gasoline compared to a year prior. Interestingly, the largest increase, forty-three percent, was seen in “unleaded regular” gasoline, followed by “unleaded midgrade,” at 37.6 percent, and “unleaded premium” at 34.9 percent.

The pandemic is to blame for this staggering increase. Early in the crisis, people were stuck under stay-at-home orders, and gasoline demand plummeted. The market responded to this demand shock by bringing prices to a level not seen in many years.

In April 2020, the average price of the gallon fell to $1.87 from the $2.66 average captured in January. Last week, the average reached its record high of $3.41 since the pandemic began more than eighteen months ago. High inflation caused by pandemic recovery and low-interest rates are a problem for the Biden administration and has led to a historic rise in COLA payments for Social Security beneficiaries.

Read more here

Benefits of Child Tax Credit keep coming in

Nearly 94 percent of parents said they planned to continue working or even work more once receiving the credit, which began in monthly installments in July, according to a report from a team of researchers from Washington University of St. Louis, Appalachian State, UNC-Greensboro, the Urban Institute and Humanity Forward.  

Only 6.4 percent of respondents said they’d use the credit to either work less or change jobs, and those that did were more likely to have young children or a partner at home.

Could Manchin leave the Democrat party?

The West Virginia senator vigorously denied the rumor with reporters on Wednesday after an article was published in Mother Jones, based on anonymous sources, claiming he has told "associates" he might leave the party over tensions related to the spending bill, and already had a plan laid out to leave the party.

Manchin has clashed with basically everyone in the party as he is seeking to water down every aspect of Biden's spending plan, reducing the power of things from climate change legislation to expanding the Child Tax Credit.

RECONCILIATION BILL

What's included in the Democrats' plan for the Child Tax Credit and energy tax credit extension?

The reconciliation bill, part of Biden's Build Back Better agenda, comes after the passage of a trillion-dollar infrastructure package in the Senate. The bill was negotiated between a bipartisan ground of Senators and the White House.

Many conservative Democrats and centrist Republicans worked together on the legislation after rejecting President Biden's broad definition of infrastructure. The group chose to drop the elements of the plan focused on human infrastructure, which would have made targeted investments in workers that fuel the economy.

Two of the most anticipated questions circulating around the reconciliation bill on whether it would include an extension to the Child Tax Credit, which is set to return to its earlier rendition after this year. But there are rumors that it will only be extended by one year to appease moderate Dems.

Read more here

We urge you to include a national paid leave program  that is meaningful, comprehensive and permanent in the Build Back Better Act. It must be universal to cover all workers, provide progressive wage replacement to help the lowest wage earners, and cover all existing types of leave with parity

A group of 15 Democrat senators, in a WH letter

The pandemic has exposed an acute emergency on top of an ongoing, chronic caregiving crisis for working people and employers alike. We cannot emerge from this crisis and remain one of the only countries in the world with no form of national paid leave. Now is the time to make a bold and robust investment in our nation’s working families

A group of 15 Democrat senators, in a WH letter

Progressives attack White House plans

Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) had ushered large parts of the Democrats' $3.5 trillion social spending wishlist through the Ways and Means Committee last month, including an expansion of the Child Tax Credit through 2025. And he's pressing party leaders to keep that timeline as negotiators draft the final package

We learned that after a flurry of meetings at the White House yesterday with moderates and Progressives, President Biden told Progressives that his latest proposal would strip tuition-free community college. That was one of the key pillars of the Biden agenda, not just a Progressive priority. That is a significant concession to give to moderates, and it would see a scaling back of those Child Tax Credits.

Kristen Welker , NBC White House correspondent

Short-term extension of Child Tax Credit "missed opportunity"

Representative Rosa DeLauro has been pushing for decades to expand the Child Tax Credit to make it a truly effect tool to reduce childhood poverty. She was one of the members of Congress that was crucial to getting the changes for 2021 included in the American Resucue Plan. However, due to budget constraints on the sweeping covid-19 relief and stimulus bill the changes will expire at the end of the year.

President Biden had asked for the the program to be extended until 2025 which was in the original draft of the spending bill Democrats are negotiating at the moment. However, Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema want the $3.5 trillion price tag to be reduced and to get there programs like the Child Tax Credit extension may be shortened. 

The previous changes to the Child Tax Credit made in 2017 which doubled the amount families could claim to $2,000 and made $1,400 of that amount fully refundable, ie if you paid less in taxes than the value of the credit you received the excess as a refund, will expire in 2025. Dropping it back to $1,000 and losing the refundable portion.

By extending the Child Tax Credit changes until 2025 the hope was that the program would prove so popular that there would be political pressure to make the expansion permanent.

Manchin on spending bills; "Let's do what we can agree on now"

Democrats have been meeting to hammer out the details of President Biden's Build Back Better plan being drawn up in Congress. Besides GOP opposition to the proposals, the party's biggest hurdle is their own Senator Joe Manchin. With the Senate divided 50-50 and Democrats planning to pass the legislation along party lines his vote is vital.

However, one of the propositions in the spending measures are investments and tax breaks to make the US energy grid carbon-free by 2035. Manchin thinks those proposals aren't needed as the industry is already moving in that direction but not at the ambitious pace the President has set. 

He feels that with the over $150 billion in the bipartisan infrastructure bill to boost clean energy and climate resistance is enough for the President to take with him to the upcoming climate summit in Glasgow.

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has stopping by the morning shows to pitch the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

When talking with Squawk Box, the Secretary spoke to the investment needed to ensure that port operations run more smoothly. The infrastrcure bill contians. a "health ports initiave" which Sec. Buttigieg said would help provide benefits for those who live around ports. He did not outline exactly what these benefits would be.

US NEWS

Does Medicaid cover dental? How can I find a clinic that accepts Medicaid?

Millions on Medicaid struggle to access basic dental services

Until the Affordable Care Act was passed, which included funding to allow states to expand Medicaid to include dental services, visits to the dentist had been on a fourteen-year decline since 1997. From 2013 to 2016, visits began to increase, in part because of the expansion in coverage. However, with states allowed to decide whether or not to include dental services in Medicaid plans, many beneficiaries struggle to see the dentist regularly.

A 2018 study found that low-income individuals in the US were forty percent less likely to have seen a dentist in the last year, compared to the high-income individuals. This finding helps to explain the large numbers of people who suffer from teeth and gum diseases.

Read our full coverage for more details on how to find a free dental clinic and for information on which states do provide dental coverage as a part of Medicaid.

A new poll from Morning Consult shows many in the US expect the economy to worsen in the next year

Morning Consult and Politico found that "voters are 11 points more likely to say the economy will worsen in the next year compared to what they said in a July survey." These findings raise concerns for Democrats who will face a competitive Mid-Term election, marking the halfway point of President Biden's tenure.

One of the biggest factors driving these results is inflation, for which "sixty-two percent of voters blame the Biden administration’s policies for rising inflation."

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that in quarter three of 2021, the median weekly earnings in the US was $1,001. This is an increase of 0.7% of over the figure reported last year, which shows that inflation and price increases have outpaced wage growth at a level of nearly 5 to 1. During the same period, the Consumer Price Index was 5.3% higher than during the same period a year ago.

The gender gap is still present with BLS reporting that the median for wage for men was 1,100 median for men, compared to $916 for women.

To meet the demands of more conservative members of the Democratic party, the President may agree to only funding the expansion of the Child Tax Credit one more year. Previous proposals would have extended the current structure through 2025.

Details on the final reconciliation package, should be released this week.

CNN Don Lemon follows the most recent developments over President Biden's plan to cut the reconciliation bill's price tag in half. This comes after all day meetings Monday with moderate and progressive members of his party. The President has had to make concessions after two key Senators, whose votes he needs, said they would not vote for a $3.5 trillion package, regardless of what it contained.

The new price tag would stand around $1.7 to $1.9 trillion dollars.

How many states offer an Earned Income Tax Credit?

The Earned Income Tax Credit provides benefits to the families and local economies across the US, by allowing households to "keep up basic spending, [...] build economic security, [and] improve longer-term health and well-being" The CBPP shows that this credit helped many low wage workers during the pandemic and it continues to serve as a "critical lifeline to struggling families, while also helping communities and the economy."

As of 2021, "Thirty states plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico have adopted state EITCs to boost family income."

SOCIAL SECURITY

What number do Social Security numbers not start with?

Before 2011, the first three digits indicated on a person's Social Security card represented the geographical area of an applicant’s mailing address with the remaining six divided into two groups to collate workers’ records.

However, as the nation grew, and ever greater numbers settled in once sparsely populated areas when the program was created, the Social Security Administration’s allocation of numbers for regions ran into a crunch. Killing two birds with one stone, the agency implemented a randomization numbering scheme but there were some number combinations that were avoided.

Prices up across the board, even some household staples

Over prices recorded this time last year, the BLS has shown a 10.5 percent increase in basic food staples like meats, poultry, fish, and eggs.

Biden expected to cut tuition-free college out of agenda say CNN

Disappointing news for some Biden voters from CNN on the administration's plan to remove tuition free community college from his agenda. The campaign promise is being dropped as more conservative Democrats draw a red line in the sand over the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.

Biden has reportedly told progressives about the plan in reaction to threats from senators Sinema and Manchin that they will not support the full $3.5 trillion Build Back Better agenda.

The Child Tax Credit is also expected to only be extended for one year, which would represent a major defeat for Biden and his agenda before the midterm elections next year. It would also prevent the 40 percent reduction in child poverty.

The deal with Senator Manchin's conflict of interest when it comes to climate

US NEWS

Will Social Security beneficiaries get a fourth stimulus check?

The idea of a fourth stimulus check for every eligible American - like those issued throughout the covid 19 pandemic - appears to have disappeared, with President Biden focused instead on the American Rescue Plan and an enhanced Child Tax Credit.

That said, there is a possibility that a more targeted payment could still be made to a certain group of American citizens, and they're pushing for that to happen. Read more.

Stimulus check live blog: welcome

Hello and a very warm welcome to today's dedicated fourth stimulus check live feed, bringing you all the latest updates from Washington.

President Biden is embarking on a crucial period in his presidency, looking to pass the remaining pillars of his ambitious Build Back Better legislative agenda. 

We'll have the latest on the Child Tax Credit extension and Social Security benefits payments, as well as the COLA 2022 adjustments.

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