Lipinski: Seniors Deserve a Cost-of-Living Increase (October 15, 2010)

Today, Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-03) announced his strong support for legislation that would provide seniors with a one-time, $250 payment to make up for the fact that there will be no Social Security cost-of-living increase next year. The Social Security Administration announced today that there will be no COLA in 2011, making it the second consecutive year without an increase, despite the fact that medical and other costs for seniors continue to rise and the recession has not spared them or their families.

"Seniors have seen the value of their homes plummet and watched the recession punish their investments and savings," Congressman Lipinski said. "Meanwhile, their health care costs continue to rise, and many of their children also face difficulties making ends meet. In this environment, seniors undoubtedly deserve a cost-of-living increase, and Congress should intervene to make sure that they receive additional assistance."

Congressman Lipinski previously cosponsored H.R. 3810, The Emergency Senior Citizens Relief Act, to give seniors a one-time $250 payment in 2010. The bill is fully paid for and will not add to the deficit.

Annual Social Security cost-of-living adjustments are not decided by Congress. Instead, under the law, they are determined by an inflation gauge known as the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. But as its name suggests, that index was designed to measure the inflation experienced by urban wage earners, not seniors, who spend a higher percentage of their income on items such as health care. That is why Congressman Lipinski helped introduce the CPI for Seniors Act, H.R. 5305, which creates a new inflation index that would more accurately measure the cost increases faced by older Americans.

Seniors’ Social Security benefits amount to $14,000 annually on average. Social Security is the primary source of income for almost two-thirds of retirees, and for one-third of recipients provides 90 percent or more of their income. Last year was the first year since 1975 without a cost-of-living increase.

"The fact that this Congress is not responsible for the lack of a COLA this year or next year does not mean it can’t take action to fill the gap now and to fix the system," Congressman Lipinski said. "As the costs of basic necessities increase, the benefits seniors have earned and deserve should keep pace, as the law intended. That way, they can continue to afford to pay their bills and remain independent after a lifetime of hard work."

(October 15, 2010)