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Calls for Fair Social Security Increases to Reflect
Seniors' Higher Costs of Living
Poughkeepsie, NY – Standing
outside the Social Security office today, U.S.
Rep. John Hall (D-NY19) announced legislation he
is pushing to help fixed income seniors
cope with the rising prices of food, gasoline,
prescription drugs, housing and health care
costs. H.R. 2032, the Consumer Price Index for
Elderly Consumers Act, would change the way the
annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for
seniors' Social Security benefits is calculated.
The bill, which Hall is co-sponsoring, would
establish a COLA specifically for the elderly.
don't need to read the news to learn about it, all
you need to do is try to balance your checkbook or
run your daily errands to find out that it seems
like everything costs more these days," said
Congressman Hall. "We're not talking about luxury
items, we’re talking about things we need to
survive and go about our business. No population
is more vulnerable to these economy-wide price
spikes than our senior citizens. To add insult to
injury, most seniors have added expenses that eat
even deeper into their bottom line. Seniors need
more medical care than the general population."
the Social Security (COLA) is 2.3%, or about $24
per month for the average retiree. For seniors
that rely on Social Security as their only source
of monthly income, this means getting by on
$12,948 for the whole year.
year's Social Security COLA is negligible compared
to the skyrocketing prices of health care,
prescription drugs, energy, and housing," said
the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) calculates
the COLA based on studies of a number of goods and
services consumed by average workers.
Unfortunately, the BLS studies do not take into
account the purchasing habits of senior citizens
who often do not purchase items like laptop
computers, ipods, and flat screen televisions.
Instead, seniors spend large portions of their
income on medical care and prescription drugs.
Thus, there is currently no accurate indicator of
seniors’ real purchasing needs.
last two decades the price of goods purchased by
the general working public rose by 90% while it
rose by 105% for seniors. Seniors’ medical costs
have risen by 238% over the last 20 years and
prescription drug costs rose by 4.3 times the rate
of inflation over the last three years.
Social Security system is not going to keep up
with seniors’ basic necessities unless it factors
in their unique purchasing needs," said Hall.
"The Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers
will establish a COLA specifically for the
elderly, which will take into account seniors’
buying habits and ensure seniors receive a fair
benefit adjustment that reflects their higher
costs of living."
Maurice Hinchey (D-NY22) is also a co-sponsor of
"All across New York, seniors are facing very
challenging times as they struggle to keep up with
soaring medical and prescription drug costs while
receiving a grossly inadequate Social Security
cost-of-living adjustment of about $24 a month,"
Hinchey said. "The current situation is completely
unacceptable, which is why the Bureau of Labor
Statistics needs to go back to the drawing board
to develop a new way of calculating COLAs that
reflect the true rising costs of living for our
nation's seniors. Social Security is virtually
useless if it can't cover life's most basic needs
of food, housing, and medicine for our seniors.
The system must be fixed."
See this page to read more information on the
final CPI number that came out on October 17, 2007, which will
determine the Cost of Living Adjustment for 2008.
How the 2009 COLA Was Figured
Does the CPI reflect what Seniors must actually spend?
WHAT IS CPI, HOW IS IT FIGURED, AND WHY THE HECK DO I
Click to see the 6-page list, if you have the stomach!
(.pdf file, requires free
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