FACT CHECK: Did Congress Deny A $336 Increase In Social Security But Approve An $8,872 Increase In Its Salaries?

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

A viral post claims Congress rejected a $336 increase in monthly Social Security benefits but approved an $8,872 increase in its monthly salaries.

Verdict: False

Adjustments in Social Security benefits change without input from Congress automatically each year. Congress has not voted to alter or deny the adjustment for 2020. There hasn’t been a change in congressional salaries since 2009.

Fact Check:

The Social Security Administration (SSA) distributes benefits, among them disability insurance, to well over 60 million Americans each month, using annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) to prevent value erosion from inflation.

Since 1975, Congress hasn’t had input in COLAs. The adjustments are automatically made each year based on the change in consumer prices for a basket of goods and services purchased by urban wage earners and clerical workers. Benefits go up if there is a measurable percent increase in the index year over year.

There also haven’t been any recent votes to alter or deny Social Security COLAs in either chamber of Congress. The SSA announced a 1.6 percent COLA for 2020.

The post’s claim that Congress approved an $8,872 increase in its own monthly salaries doesn’t hold up either. (RELATED: Did Nancy Pelosi Divert $2.4 Billion From Social Security To Pay For Impeachment?)

In 1989, Congress passed a law authorizing automatic yearly salary adjustments based on changes in private sector wages. Under that law, congressional salaries go up if there is a measurable increase in the Employment Cost Index year over year, unless the adjustment is statutorily denied.

Congress hasn’t seen a salary increase since 2009, when they first instituted the pay freeze. Non-ranking members of the House and Senate currently receive an annual salary of $174,000, and ranking members earn higher salaries – House Speaker receives $223,500, Senate president pro tempore receives $193,400 and majority and minority leaders in both chambers receive $193,400.

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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