Medicare represents a covenant between the U.S. government and its citizens, regularly acting as a lifeline for our seniors.
Knowing this, Congress crafted a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law on March 23, 2010, to extend the solvency of Medicare by nine more years.
Medicare is a federal insurance program that pays for covered health care services of qualified beneficiaries, including individuals 65 and older, and has been expanded over the years to include permanently disabled individuals under 65.
Medicare, which consists of four parts (A-D), covers hospitalizations, physician and diagnostic services, prescription drugs, skilled nursing facility care, home health visits, and hospice care, among other services.
Medicare was enacted in 1965. President Lyndon Johnson signed the bill into law, stating "No longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine...No longer will illness crush and destroy the savings that they have so carefully put away over a lifetime so that they might enjoy dignity in their later years."
Generally, individuals are eligible for Medicare if they or their spouse worked for at least 40 quarters in Medicare-covered employment, are 65 years old, and are a citizen or permanent resident of the United States.
Click here for more information about Medicare.
Social Security is a contributory social insurance system that covers 164 million workers (94 percent of workers in paid employment or self employment) and provides monthly cash benefits to 51 million beneficiaries, including retired and disabled workers and their dependents, as well as the dependents of deceased workers.
Social Security was enacted in 1935 and was intended to improve the economic circumstances of older adults during the Depression. As more and more people were covered and living longer, Social Security has been modified to address these changes over the years.
Social Security has been, for 75 years, a bedrock promise. You have earned it with a lifetime of hard work, and it should be there for you and future generations.
At the end of 2011, 56 million people, including retirees, widows, disabled workers, and children, will be receiving Social Security benefits. The Trust Fund's assets are projected to be $2.7 trillion at the end of 2011 – enough to pay full benefits until 2036.
Social Security has weathered difficult economic times, including 13 recessions over the last 75 years. Never once has it failed to pay beneficiaries; Americans continue to be paid their benefits on time and in full.
Considering the large and important role that Social Security has in America's safety net for older and disabled, widowed and orphaned citizens, comprehensive Social Security reform has been a perennial and contentious item on the Congressional agenda.
I fully support maintaining traditional Social Security and finding ways to effectively extend it without cutting benefits to our nation's seniors.
For many Americans, Social Security is the lifeline that keeps them out of poverty. The average benefits are only $14,000 a year, but six out of ten seniors depend on Social Security benefits to make up more than half their incomes. Nearly half of all seniors – 45.2 percent – would be living in poverty if it weren't for their Social Security benefits.
Click here for more information about Social Security.