FEBRUARY 16, 2009: With the inclusion of non-Social Security retirees in the federal stimulus bill now before President Obama, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry has won a crucial fight on behalf of public retirees.

With the help of several members of the state’s Congressional delegation, Kerry was able to win Conference Committee approval of his amendment to grant public retirees the federal stimulus payment. The payment, which is contained within the Make Work Pay provisions in the $787 billion legislation, equals $250 per retiree.

Acceptance of the amendment comes on the heels of an unsuccessful attempt to insert the language in the Senate’s version of the bill. As the bill was being negotiated by the joint House-Senate conference committee, Kerry enlisted the help of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation to lobby their House colleagues on behalf of the provision.

 Congressmen Richard Neal (D-Springfield), Barney Frank (D-Newton) and Michael Capuano (D-Somerville) each played a key role in the amendment’s adoption by the conference committee. Neal is a leading Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, Frank chairs the powerful House Financial Services Committee and Capuano is a top lieutenant of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  

“The strength and clout of our delegation really showed through on this one. Thankfully our representatives are in a position to get things done,” said Association President Ralph White. “But none of this would have been possible without Senator Kerry. He fought for our retirees and did not give up, even when the odds were not on our side.”

 Kerry’s amendment not only extends the $250 stimulus payment to non Social Security governmental retirees, but also to railroad retirees and disabled veterans.  

Details on how the stimulus will be administered are still being worked out. Please look to the May edition of the Voice, as well as for further information.