March 8, 2017
WASHINGTON, DC- This week, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) introduced H.R. 1251, the Fair COLA Act of 2017. This bill would make Social Security fairer to seniors by requiring the program to use the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E) to calculate cost of living adjustments for retirement benefits. This would increase benefits and better ensure that cost of living adjustments in Social Security actually reflect the real rising costs for seniors and disabled people in America. From 1982 to 2011, CPI-E rose at an annual average rate of 3.1 percent, compared with 2.9 percent for the methods that are currently used.
“Our senior and disabled citizens rely on Social Security benefits for a large portion of their income, and it’s about time for Social Security benefits to reflect their lifestyles,” said Garamendi. “Using a Consumer Price Index that actually reflects how retirees spend their money – especially in health care – is a no-brainer that will increase benefits and make Social Security work better for the people it serves.”
The legislation has already earned broad support, with 24 original co-sponsorships and key support from leading advocacy groups and labor organizations.
“Social Security Works applauds Rep. Garamendi for championing Social Security and sponsoring the Fair COLA Act of 2017,” said Nancy Altman, Founding Co-Director of Social Security Works. “One of the most valuable features of Social Security is its inflation protection. However, the current method of calculating inflation under-measures the cost of living of seniors and people with disabilities who are disproportionately burdened by rising costs of prescription drugs and other essential medical care. By more accurately accounting for the costs faced by Social Security beneficiaries, this legislation better prevents the erosion over time of Social Security’s modest but vital earned benefits.”