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Statement About Signing a Bill To Increase Social Security Benefits

January 03, 1974

I HAVE signed into law H.R. 11333, an extremely important, far-reaching measure. This new law will raise social security benefits for nearly 30 million Americans and will bring increased benefits to some 3.4 million aged, blind, and disabled persons who have started receiving new supplemental security income benefits this week.

Just 6 months ago, I signed legislation which would have increased social security benefits almost 6 percent by next July to meet the rising cost of living. The bill I sign today will replace that increase in order to reflect more closely the rise in the cost of living since the last social security increase took effect in September of 1972.

The 11 percent increase provided by the new law will be accomplished in two steps. The first increase of 7 percent will begin in April of 1974, and a second increase of 4 percent will begin this coming July.

With these increases, social security benefits will have risen by 68.5 percent since this Administration took office nearly 5 years ago.

Protection against inflation for the aged, blind, and disabled is another very major consequence of this new law. These especially deserving people were transferred from the previous Federal-State public assistance program to the new Federal supplemental security income program on January 1. The bill I sign today will move up the benefit increase already scheduled to take effect for these recipients from July to January of 1974.

I am greatly pleased that many millions of Americans will enjoy an improved financial situation because of this legislation. To be sure, such gains cannot be made without a price, and in this instance, the increases must be financed largely by an increase in the wage base on which social security payroll taxes are levied.

One provision included in this bill is most unfortunate. It would delay until December 31, 1974, the effective date of the social service regulations recently issued by the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. We in this Administration have worked hard to see that services are concentrated on those who are truly needy, rather than permitting funds to be spent with little regard for genuine need. We have made considerable progress toward this goal, and the new regulations were an important step in this progress. The postponement included in the new law will significantly impede this important thrust and could actually reduce the amount of day care, child care, and other services which can be provided for our poorest citizens.

In considering whether to sign this bill, I have weighed this reservation very carefully, even as I have considered carefully the impact of H.R. 11333 on payroll taxes for the average wage earner. In the end, however, I have been most deeply impressed by what this legislation can do to enhance the financial security of millions of Americans--especially our older citizens. Because I believe this advantage outweighs the disadvantages I have mentioned, I have signed H.R. 11333 into law.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 11333, approved December 31, 1973, is Public Law 93-233 (87 Stat. 947 ).

The statement was released at San Clemente, Calif.

Richard Nixon, Statement About Signing a Bill To Increase Social Security Benefits Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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