Warwick resident Daniel Battle, who turned 90 last week, said he’s not ready to give up the fight for $5,000 that he feels is owed to him, as he is a “Notch Baby.”
According to Paul Lucas, the office manager at the Warwick Social Security Administration (SSA) office, the “Notch” refers to United States citizens born between 1917 and 1921, those who are now 90 to 95 years old.
Further, the SSA website defines “Notch Babies” as retirees who received lower cost-of-living increases in Social Security than others after Congress readjusted Social Security benefits in 1977.
The site lists that the notch resulted from a 1972 change in the Social Security law that provided an annual automatic cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for benefits. The formula used to calculate the COLA was flawed and the benefit levels rose faster than the rate of inflation.
Before Congress was able to correct the error in 1977, the benefits for many people born between 1910 and 1916 were calculated using the flawed benefit formula and they received an unintended bonus.
While more than 100 legislative bills addressing the inequity have been introduced in Congress, no action has been taken.
Additionally, Battle said he met with Congressman Jim Langevin more than 10 years ago to discuss the topic and nothing has been rectified.
“I don’t know why people don’t rise up and take action,” Battle said. “I don’t understand why people allow things like this.”
According to Jonathon Dworkin, Langevin’s communications director, the Congressman supports seniors receiving money that is due to them. If legislation were brought to the table for a vote, Langevin would vote in favor of it, said Dworkin.
“Right now, Langevin has been fighting for Social Security and Medicare to prevent any loses to the programs,” Dworkin said.
In a letter to the editor, Battle wrote that the government has been saying for years that they plan to reimburse “Notch Babies” to no avail.
“For years this bill has been in committee and ignored,” he said in the letter. “The youngest notch baby right now is 85 years of age and the oldest ones are dying off. I am sure that our government keeps track of the nation’s obituaries and knows the number of us that are still living. If they wait a few more years, there will be no need to pass this bill because we will all be dead.”
He also wrote, “All that money can then be used to help some foreign nation, as is the policy of this country. All I can say is to raise our voices, or else we are doomed.”
In an interview, he asked, “Why is the government getting away with this?”
Lucas said the Social Security Administration has put out “numerous” publications for topics of increased interest. The “Notch” has always been one of the topics, but as time passes, interest decreases since the changes were made more than 34 years ago.
Unfortunately for Battle, Lucas said “Notch Babies” won’t be seeing any reimbursements.
“SSA and Congress conducted studies and introduced legislation that considered reimbursement for those in the notch,” Lucas said. “However, the final conclusions in 1994 determined reimbursement was not needed and that all were being paid benefits fairly.”