September Observer

September Observer

In the latest OWL Observer, we look at how too many Independent voters are shut out of the primary process; must-know information on Social Security and women that OWL shared with all presidential candidates; and more.

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What makes OWL unique is our sharp focus. We are the only organization that works solely on the economic security and quality-of-life issues impacting women over 40, who account for almost one-quarter of the U.S. population.

Join us in speaking up for this estimated 78-million-member demographic whose voice on the policy stage has yet to match its size.


Latest from OWL

It’s Only Fair

Social Security recipients—who are receiving no cost-of-living increase (COLA) next year—would receive a one-time payment of $580 in 2016 under legislation proposed today by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). The amount is 3.9% of the average benefit, reflecting the average raise CEOs at the 350 largest companies received last year.

“It may sound like a small amount to some people, but to a woman who depends on Social Security for basic living expenses, this infusion would mean a lot,” said OWL Executive Director Bobbie Brinegar. “The average annual Social Security benefit for women 65 and older is about $13,500 per year. When you consider what these women have contributed over the years, this ‘bonus’ has definitely been earned.”

It’s also money that will go right back into the economy, Brinegar said. “We know that these are checks that are spent quickly; so it will not only benefit individuals, it will help their communities.”

The one-time payment is not without precedence; a $250 payment was issued to Social Security recipients as part of the 2009 Recovery Act. Later research found that the lump-sum payment was one of the quickest-acting components in that Act.

The cost of the Seniors and Veterans Emergency (SAVE) Benefits Act would be funded by eliminating a tax loophole. Under that loophole, corporations can deduct from their taxable income any amount paid to CEOs and their executives, as long as the pay is “performance-based.” This would save taxpayers $50 billion over 10 years, according to the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation.

Posted by Pat Lewis on 11/05 at 02:51 PM

Action Needed to Stop Steep Hike in Medicare Costs

By David Lipschutz, Senior Policy Attorney

Center for Medicare Advocacy

Due to a number of converging factors, 2016 Medicare Part B premiums are projected to dramatically increase for some Medicare beneficiaries, and the Part B deductible is projected to dramatically increase for everyone – unless Congress acts to fix it.

On October 15th – the same day that the Medicare Open Enrollment period began, which allows people to make changes to their Medicare Advantage and Part D plans – the Social Security Administration announced that there will be no Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2016. Although the Medicare program has not yet released the official 2016 Part B premium and deductible amounts, this announcement makes it much more likely that these unprecedented increases will occur.

According to the 2015 Medicare Trustees Report, Part B premiums are expected to increase for 30% of beneficiaries by 52% – from $104.90 to $159.30 per month. The trustees also predict that this increase will be accompanied by an increase in the Part B deductible for everyone – up to $223 from $147.

Because there will be no COLA next year, 70% of beneficiaries who have their Part B premiums deducted from their Social Security checks will be protected by a “hold harmless” provision of the Medicare statute, meaning their premiums will stay at the same rate next year ($104.90).

That means the increased costs will be borne by the 30% of individuals described below, rather than a lower amount spread across the entire Medicare population.

The 30% of affected individuals are: o those who will be new Medicare enrollees in 2016; o those with income-related premiums (incomes higher than $85,000 for individuals); o those beneficiaries who pay their premiums directly instead of having it deducted from their Social Security checks (or those who don’t collect Social Security, such as certain government employees); and o individuals dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid (these costs will be paid for by state Medicaid agencies rather than individuals). Read more.

Posted by Pat Lewis on 10/20 at 10:06 AM

California Closing the Gap

On Tuesday, California took a landmark step in addressing wage discrimination when Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Fair Pay Act, which is being called the strongest equal-pay protection in the nation.

The Act closes loopholes in existing laws that made it difficult for women to prove wage discrimination or challenge their employers.

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Posted by Deborah Akel on 10/07 at 10:49 PM

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