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Answer complicated whether letter is a scam

You have answered three questions for me in the past. This problem is over 30 years old. I used to send money but don't now. My husband did, too, but before he died in 1992 he told me not to as it had been going on for so long with letters like the one enclosed. I have been told it is a scam. If it is, it's the longest one I've heard of. I hope you can help me.

— L.

Thank you for enclosing the letter you received, L., asking you to donate $5, $10, $15 or more to help fund The Senior Citizens League's decades-long fight over supposedly unfair Social Security payments to seniors born between 1917 and 1926.

Whether the league is running a scam is a matter of opinion, but seniors are often advised not to send money to the Washington, D.C., group in response to "Notch Victim" letters it has been sending out for years.

In the letter you provided us, the league makes it sound like Social Security payouts of $5,000 are just around the corner, with passage of a bill in Congress possible in 2016.

However, way back in 1994, a commission established by Congress issued a report concluding that “benefits paid to those in the Notch years are equitable, and no remedial legislation is in order.”

The latest letter from the league asks in bold blue and red type "Would YOU Accept Your $5,000 Lump-Sum Notch Settlement as Final in 2016?" The letter asks seniors to put a "Yes" sticker on a form to show Congress "Notch Victims" would accept $5,000 settlements to resolve "the Notch mistake."

After asking for a financial donation, the letter pleads, "Your continued support is more important than ever as we have a chance to make additional progress very quickly."

The league, which has taken in millions of dollars from seniors over the years and been the subject of investigation, has defended itself by saying years of failing to win passage of "Notch Victim" legislation in Congress doesn't mean it will never succeed.

As for whether you can get your money back after sending donations to the league for years in the past, the league states on its website it offers its supporters an unconditional refund if supporters are dissatisfied with the league's performance. However, the league only promises to refund "the most recent donation."

—Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.