Senior Citizens, Many Jews, May Be Hurt by New Social Security Measure

The American Jewish Congress today called on Congress to enact special emergency legislation that would protect the nation’s elderly by requiring state officials to disregard the new Social Security increase in computing eligibility for other federally-funded health and welfare benefits.

A 20 percent increase in Social Security benefits to the elderly went into effect yesterday but is likely to have “a negative impact on many senior citizens nationwide who will now be above eligible income levels for other aid programs,” the AJCongress asserted.

Howard M. Squadron, chairman of the Congress’ national governing council, said passage of emergency legislation would “offer immediate protection to those persons whose participation in special programs is threatened by the Social Security increase.” Two-thirds of the nation’s estimated 800,000 Jewish poor are reported to be over 65 years of age and currently benefitting from Social Security and other federal programs.

“The new and welcome Social Security increase will be a bitter hoax to many if instead of delivering the help it promises, it actually results in deprivation,” Squadron stated. “Tens of thousands of Social Security recipients throughout the country now find themselves, as a result of the increase, ineligible to receive other benefits, such as food stamps and Medicaid. For these and many others, the Social Security increase may also be wiped out by decreased Old Age Assistance payments.”

Squadron noted that the AJCongress had written last Wednesday to Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare Elliot L. Richardson outlining the deprivation the 20 percent Social Security increase would impose on many and calling for a general policy dealing with the “interrelatedness of federal and state-aid programs.” No reply has been received as yet from Richardson, the AJCongress reported.

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