Congressional Corner: COLA Tabulation Is Broken

Congressional Corner: COLA Tabulation Is Broken

Representative John J. “Jimmy” Duncan, Jr. (TN-2)

For only the third time in history, nearly 60 million Americans are going without a Social Security cost-of-living raise this year. Why? Because the way the government tabulates inflation for seniors is broken.

Social Security raises — or Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) — are tied by law to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).

The CPI-W is a sample of the spending habits of young, urban workers and represents only about one-third of the U.S. population.

Seniors do not spend in the same way as younger, working Americans. We need a true and accurate measure of the inflation rate just for seniors. In response to this problem, I have introduced H.R. 3074, the Consumer Price Index for Seniors Act. My bill would require the government to begin publishing each month an inflation rate that accurately tracks the spending habits of Americans 62 years of age and older.

Experts agree that older Americans consume a greater percentage of goods whose prices, on average, rise more rapidly, like healthcare and housing. In fact, seniors spend twice as much on healthcare than the average working American.

According to the Congressional Research Service, if an inflation rate tailored to seniors had been used to calculate the annual Social Security COLA, “then benefits would be 0.6% higher for retirees at age 65; 2.6% higher at 75; and 4.6% higher at 85.”    My bill is bipartisan, with very liberal and very conservative members of Congress supporting it. But I need your help. Thousands of bills are introduced each year in Congress, and it takes many co-sponsors to advance them.

To keep this effort alive, please write or call your member of Congress and ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 3074, the Consumer Price Index for Seniors Act.

Many seniors live on just their Social Security income. It is an earned benefit, and it is long past time that we fix this broken process and keep our promise to America’s seniors.


Editors note:

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