Lipinski Votes for Cost-of-Living Increase for Seniors (December 8, 2010)

Today, Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-03) voted for the Seniors Protection Act, H.R. 5987, to provide Social Security recipients 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. 2011 would be the second consecutive year without such 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. Unfortunately, the bill did not pass the House.

“Now more than ever, we need to make sure that seniors’ Social Security checks keep pace with their costs,” Congressman Lipinski said. “Congress’s failure to pass this bill shows that too many in Washington still haven’t gotten the message and aren’t listening to the people they represent. Across the country, families are hurting, and seniors are no exception. Third District retirees have repeatedly told me that health care and other prices are going up, and that the formula used to calculate their benefits simply isn’t capturing that reality. Meanwhile, the turmoil of the last several years has severely impacted the savings and home values of retirees. To not provide a cost-of-living increase to seniors during the worst economy in recent memory simply isn’t right.”

Congressman Lipinski previously cosponsored H.R. 3810, The Emergency Senior Citizens Relief Act, to give seniors a one-time $250 payment in 2010.

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.

“Prior to 2010, the last time seniors were forced to make do without a cost-of-living increase was 1975,” Congressman Lipinski said. “Now, they’re looking at two years in a row without an increase. I’m going to keep fighting for seniors, just as I always have, and working to make sure that they receive what they need especially during these tough economic times.”

(December 8, 2010)