Bullock introduces legislation to extend Social Security COLA moratorium for Pa. Property Tax/Rent Rebate program recipients

HARRISBURG, June 15 – State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., today introduced legislation (H.B. 1568) that would extend the moratorium exempting Social Security cost-of-living-adjustments from income used to determine eligibility for the PA Property Tax/Rent Rebate program.

The bill would extend the Social Security COLA moratorium until Dec. 31, 2019. The previous moratorium, Act 156 of 2014, expired on Dec. 31. If the moratorium is not extended, more than 450 individuals would become ineligible for the program.

“It is important that we protect our older and disabled Pennsylvanians by ensuring that they have access to programs such as the Property Tax/Rent Rebate program,” Bullock said. “This program allows qualifying residents to maintain their independence. Many recipients of the program survive off of fixed income and will have no way to gain extra income if they become ineligible.”

The PTRR program is administered by the Department of Revenue and funded by proceeds from the Pennsylvania Lottery. Individuals who are 65 or older, at least 50 and widowed, or are permanently disabled and 18 years or older are eligible to receive a rebate if their income falls below a certain threshold. The annual household income for property owners must be $35,000 or less and the annual household income for renters must be $15,000 or less. The maximum standard rebate is $650, but some homeowners can qualify for a $975 rebate. Each year hundreds of thousands of older and disabled Pennsylvanians living on fixed incomes receive financial relief from the PTRR program.

Although COLAs may slightly increase the income of recipients, this extra income often goes to cover increased prices in housing and other costs of living, Bullock said. Moreover, COLAs can potentially disqualify many older and disabled Pennsylvanians from needed benefits, such as the PTRR program, if their income surpasses the threshold outlined in the eligibility requirements.

“My colleagues and I must quickly work together to make sure that our most vulnerable constituents are able to receive the financial assistance they need,” Bullock said. “A delay in extending the moratorium will have the greatest impact on residents who need it the most.”