August 21, 2019

Congressman Neguse Introduces Bill to Ensure Fairness in Social Security for Mountain-Area Residents

Bill to ensure equal access to social security payments and healthcare exchanges inspired by Silverthorne Constituent

Washington D.C. — Representative Joe Neguse, who represents Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District, and Representative Jared Golden, who represents Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, have introduced legislation to clarify and ensure fairness in the disbursement of social security income. Representative Neguse was inspired to introduce this legislation after he became aware of a Silverthorne constituent who was left owing over $27,000 back to the IRS because of a lump-sum social security disability payment they had received. 

Currently there is an IRS rule that includes one-time, lump sum payments of social security benefits—back pay for time the Social Security Administration (SSA) took to certify eligibility for social security—when calculating a person’s annual taxable income. As a result, recipients may then be disqualified from tax credits they already received to purchase healthcare through the Affordable Care Act exchanges, resulting in some recipients owing large amounts back to the IRS. The Fairness in Social Security Act removes the inclusion of social security disability or other benefit payments prior to the current year in calculation that citizen’s current year income to ensure individuals aren’t left owing large sums back to the IRS. 

“The result of this rule is that people with disabilities, widows, new retirees, and others qualifying for social security disability or other benefit payments can end up with large and unexpected tax bills,” said Congressman Neguse. “Due to this flaw in the system, one of my constituents owed just over $27,000 to the IRS. It is simply unacceptable to allow an oversight like this to put the financial stability of middle-class Americans in jeopardy.” 

“We’re looking for every solution that will help lower the cost of healthcare for Americans,” said Congressman Golden. “Right now, Mainers can be required to pay back tax credits that help them purchase health insurance just because the Social Security Administration took too long to approve their claim. That’s not how government should work. I’m proud to join Congressman Neguse to introduce this legislation, which will help prevent Americans’ financial well-being from being threatened by delayed Social Security payments.

“We applaud Congressmen Neguse’s leadership in developing this important legislation,” said Max Richtman, President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, who endorsed the legislation. “Excluding these retroactive payments from consideration when determining a beneficiary’s eligibility for ACA tax credit assistance will go a long way in assuring that Social Security beneficiaries’ eligibility to health care under the ACA will not be interrupted by the receipt of these retroactive payments.” 

The Social Security Task Force of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities is pleased to support the Fairness in Social Security Act,” said Lisa Ekman, Social Security Task Force Co-Chair. “Access to comprehensive, affordable health insurance is vital to people with disabilities and this common sense bill will ensure that people with disabilities aren’t penalized when they otherwise qualify for assistance to purchase healthcare through the ACA but receive a lump sum of back benefits for previous years. The Task Force thanks Congressman Neguse for his leadership on this issue.”