Congressman Cohen: Social Security Should Give Seniors a Cost of Living Adjustment

Washington, D.C. – October 16, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) released the following statement today regarding the Social Security Administration’s anticipated announcement this week that there will be no increase in the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients in 2016.

“I am concerned the absence of a cost-of-living increase this year will place an undue burden on America’s senior citizens, disabled veterans, Supplemental Security Income recipients, and their families,” said Congressman Cohen. “Lower gas prices are a major contributor to the lack of a cost of living increase, yet these groups are less likely to drive compared to younger and healthier citizens. Cost of living adjustments are vital to help seniors, disabled veterans, and Supplemental Security Income recipients keep up with the rising prices of medical care, prescription drugs, food and housing.”

The annual COLA is based on the Bureau of Labor and Statistics measure of inflation through the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). Congress enacted automatic increases for Social Security beneficiaries in 1975 and has averaged a 4 percent increase per year since. Social Security has only not issued a cost of living adjustment twice: in 2010 and 2011. Nearly 58 million Americans rely on Social Security benefits.

Earlier this week, Congressman Cohen, along with 55 of his colleagues, wrote to Social Security Administration Acting Commissioner Carolyn Colvin, urging her to support policies that would include an annual cost of living adjustment for seniors. The letter also encouraged use of the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E) rather than the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) because it takes into account the spending patterns of the elderly, such as health care costs, prescription drug costs, food and housing that tend to rise more rapidly. A copy of the letter can be found here.

Congressman Cohen and several of his colleagues are cosponsoring a bill with Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL) entitled the “Seniors Deserve a Raise Act.” If enacted, this bill would tie future Social Security cost-of-living adjustments to CPI-E and provide an immediate 2.9 percent increase in Social Security benefits for senior citizens. An introduction of the bill is planned for later this month.

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