Tell the Notch Babies no

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The “Notch Babies” aren’t giving up.

Notch Babies are the approximately 4 million people born between 1917 and 1921 — ages 85 to 90. In 1972, Congress linked Social Security to the Consumer Price Index to protect it from inflation. Someone made an error in the formula, so benefits were too high. The error was corrected in 1977.

Seniors born between 1910 and 1916 got a windfall — they got to keep the Social Security increase that resulted from the error. To be fair, Congress gave people living in retirement born between 1917 and 1921 a break, too. Instead of reducing benefits all at once after the calculation was changed, the decrease was prorated over five years. But the people who became known as the Notch Babies weren’t happy. They wanted the whole windfall, too.

In 1994, Congress investigated the issue and concluded that Notch Babies didn’t get a raw deal and weren’t owed anything, but activists won’t let the issue die. Currently, legislation proposed by U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., and supported by the nonpartisan advocacy group, The Senior Citizens League, proposes compensating every notch baby and those up to five years younger than the original Notch Babies — born between 1921 and 1926 — by paying each of them a flat $5,000.

The cost would be about $45 billion.

At a time when we’re worried about cutting a huge national deficit and trying to figure out how to keep Social Security solvent for the long haul, this seems like retirement planning folly. Spending that kind of money to compensate people for something that many argue that they didn’t deserve to begin with is a cost we can’t afford.

Notch Babies, quit your whining.