July 17, 1996 - Issue: Vol. 142, No. 105 — Daily Edition104th Congress (1995 - 1996) - 2nd Session
SOCIAL SECURITY FAIRNESS ACT OF 1996; Congressional Record Vol. 142, No. 105
(Extensions of Remarks - July 17, 1996)
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[Extensions of Remarks] [Pages E1305-E1306] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] SOCIAL SECURITY FAIRNESS ACT OF 1996 ______ HON. TIM HOLDEN of pennsylvania in the house of representatives Wednesday, July 17, 1996 Mr. HOLDEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to ask my colleagues to cosponsor the bill I will introduce today, the Social Security Benefits Fairness Act of 1996. Under current law, no Social Security benefits are paid for the month of death. When a person dies, their family is not entitled to the benefits and must send back the Social Security check--even if they lived for most of the month. This happens to many families in my district. For example, Mrs. Phyllis Strunk's husband, Royden, died on May 31, 1996, at 7:04 p.m., living the entire month and incurring normal living expenses. His wife was told she would not receive her husband's benefits for May because he did not live 4 hours and 56 minutes longer. According to his family, Mr. Strunk ``lived a quiet life after [serving in] the war--he obeyed the law, paid his taxes, voted, gave to those less fortunate than he, and rarely had an extra dollar after his families needs were met. In many ways, the country [he] had honored and fought for cheated him in life, and now, it has repaid his loyalty by also cheating him in death.'' This law is cruel and affects people adversely when they are already saddened and distraught by the death of a family member. I have heard from tearful and outraged widows and widowers, daughters, and sons who have already suffered a great loss--they want to know why they have to send the money back when it is needed to pay utilities, rent, and [[Page E1306]] other bills left by the death of a loved one. People can not control when they die, but, unfortunately, their bills and expenses remain. Why punish those who pay their taxes, serve our country, and are law- abiding citizens? We should be going after the people who evade our tax system and the convicted felons who continue to receive Social Security benefits while in prison--not those people who contribute to society. This law is unfair and absurd. That is why I am introducing the Social Security Benefits Fairness Act of 1996. My bill will return fairness to the Social Security System. The bill would amend the Social Security Act, allowing benefits to be paid for the month of death. A surviving spouse or family estate would receive one-half of a month's benefits if a person dies within the first 15 days of a month and full benefits if a person dies after the 15th. Making this fair and fundamental change will ensure that a surviving spouse or family will have the Social Security check to cover the expenses for the last month of life. Please join me in this effort and cosponsor the Social Security Benefits Fairness Act of 1996. ____________________