Supporter Perspective

Voices from across the country

The federal governments announced in October of 2015 that there will be a 0% cost of living adjustment (COLA), for Social Security recipients in 2016. We anticipate a similar decision in October of 2016 to take effect in 2017. Now is the time to get our voices heard!

We asked our supporters who represent seniors, retirees, and elderly Americans across the country "What will a 0% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) mean to you?"

Hundreds of you shared your personal situations with us. We are posting many here to urge Members of Congress and their staffs to read REAL WORLD personal situations so they know how decisions like a 0% COLA affect real our senior American citizens every day. It’s a problem they could fix by building fair, predictable cost of living adjustments into the law!

Take a moment to hear from American citizens across the country.

Larry OR My rent has gone up $85 in the past year, grocery prices are up, cable TV prices are up, my prescription drug costs are up, and my Medicare Advantage plan has worse coverage than this year. These are the things you should be looking at when considering COLA, not gas prices. Most of us old folks don't drive much anymore, so gas prices are the least of our worries. Social Security is my primary source of income. I'm barely making ends meet anyway, and with no COLA to look forward to, I'm in for some very tough times in 2016 and beyond. Shame on you, Washington, for abusing the Social Security trust fund to the point that you can't pay us the money we have coming. You've thrown us senior citizens under the bus, and we are not happy about it.
Alan NV I have been struggling with paying my bills. My utility costs have gone up, food costs have skyrocketed, and medical costs have increased. Obama Care has us paying a 35% tax on medical devices, as if they aren't expensive enough. Doesn't that count as COLA. ABSURD No COLA means I will be going to the doctor less, going some nights without food, and probably have to let my car go. With my medical problems, I cannot handle a job to get additional money, They raise the minimum wage in some places, so costs are going up for business, and they will increase prices to take care of that. No COLA is an insult to all of us who depend on Social Security for our income. Shame on those who calculate the cola based on a few things.
Linda AZ With Prices on food escalating along with increases in every other product I purchase the property taxes are also going up again. I have not had a new pair of shoes in years let alone a new dress for church. I bet the government employees get new shoes and dresses along with much better health insurance. But me I am still working a hard physical job along with my Social Security just to make ends meet and sometimes they do not meet. I thank God for my health without that I would be indigent.
Charlene AZ How many ways can this zero cost of living affect me. My health, my home, my whole life. I worry myself every day on what may happen. Food is way up and the medicines are taking us for a good ride. The U.S. is not taking care of their Vets-Seniors and more. Congress should be on medicare, then you would see a big change. I just got this house 11 years ago, and owe on it. The Americans better stand up now for we will not have a country left.
ken CO my monthly check will be 59.00 less because of health insurance alone. ground beef has gone up over a dollar a pound. it seems that almost every item in the store has gone up at least .50 per item. taxes on the home are up 25.00 car insurance up 52.00 per year. my belt is about as tight as it will go. they say we are eating chicken instead of beef, well whats next? the dogs food
Helen CO Not receiving an increase in my SS(my only income), I have an increase in my house taxes, my homeowners dues, food prices that continue to soar. I also have my disabled daughter living with me who I care for 24/7 because I cannot afford a caretaker. I have been widowed for 14 years and living expenses get harder each year. I do not go out looking for "freebies" or handouts but I feel I'm beginning to fall into the severe poverty level soon. Just because gas prices went down a few cents, that had no significant help to me and many in my age group. I hope something can be done to reconsider this ruling.
Helen TX Past COLAs did not keep up with the actual COL, but 0% COLA really causes one to contemplate, cry and cut more, ... but where? Mostly whatever comes due first gets paid and then the remainder waits. Major cuts will be for clothing, food, dental work, new glasses, cable TV ... all of the daily expenditures will have to be diminished.
Sharon TX Politicians get richer have fat retirement checks. Sold us out to special interest/ My husband has 70% liver loss from air gun shots he got going into Viet Nam. (proved this thru Waco Texas VA courts). when he dies I will get a portion of his VA check his Social Security my $800 monthly retirement and I have live on that. $3,000 month. I drive a 24 year old Isuzu no air-conditioning. Politicians give free everything to Illegals ,foreigner's countries etc and give us retirees nothing. I've paid since I was 15 to Social Security and my taxes. I raised 4 boys never been on welfare never got nothing free. Worked 3 jobs all the time. Washington doesn't care about any of us true American's only how much money they can acquire while in office. They will not take it with them when they die and answer for all their misgivings. Yes my husband and I could use any extra money monthly but we will never get what we deserve any of us Seniors.
Jeanne TX My auto insurance increased 40% when I turned 70, I have no life insurance, my utilities are increasing every year, my small IRA has dwindled to the point that I will run out of money soon. Grocery prices continue to rise. The only decrease we've seen is in gas prices. And because of that we deserve no increase! The formula used was initiated in the 1970's! Each and every one of us American citizens who worked fo 40, 50 and possibly more years are insulted and outraged by this decision! I haven't even touched on medical care and prescription costs! We are not ignorant just because we have aged! We are being stripped of our dignity, this measure will add to our losses! Please, SOMEone listen!
James OK No COLA means no raise in military or social security and this is money I will miss for the rest of my life. Prices are going up in the commissary and the exchange and I here they are trying to take commissary away. Civilian stores keep raising prices. I will not be able to eat our as often as I use to. It is funny that Congress wants a pay raise. I feel that they should get a 10% cut in pay every time they fail to give us a COLA.
PETER NE My rent goes up 3% per year, Dr. office visit goes up 10% a year, one apple or orange is $1.00, 1 lemon is $1.25, eggs are up $2.00 a dozen!! If we can not get a fair COLA, lets start calling our Congress for PRICE AND RENT FREEZES.
michelle KS Obviously the government in its infinite wisdom, thinks the only thing seniors purchase is gasoline...we actually purchase food, clothing, medicine, heating and cooling for our homes, home repairs, phone bills,yard maintenance, property taxes, house and car insurance, all of which goes up each year far beyond any increase we do get, and other items too numerous to mention...gasoline is the least of most retirees purchases...this is an insult to our intelligence...and to think illegal immigrants are getting benefits is just beyond the pale...that's one of the reasons we aren't getting a raise, so they will be able to pay them...shame on the gvt, they need to reconsider.
Noreen WI I do not agree that seniors should not get a cost of living raise, and I am a senior. I am a widow, and my money is running out. My medical bills and premiums are high. I have to live with paying them off monthly and I can hardly do that. Going to a grocery store is very high now, Looking at senior places to live are high rents. Property taxes are too high, and I can't keep up the house like I should. Also, dental bills, are high. My husband was very sick, and I had to take care of him for many years. We were always paying off medical bills He had to go on disability which was hard. He could not keep a job because of his illness, and I could only work part time because of not having any help for him other than myself. People who have money do not understand situations like I am in.
Bernard IA I wonder how much cost of living raise the politicians will get? all my taxes went up,property tax,gas tax and etc.but social security is an entitlement,i paid it and i'm entitled to it.
Robert OH I just don't understand . My rent went up, food went up and when they release our gas and oil to the world market it well return to last years price and now i am seeing my cost of medical help will increase. Inflation by the government on seniors only. If there is no inflation why are they increasing our part B and copay?
John DE Wow big deal, gas went down, But eggs,meat ,my rent went up 3.8%, Insurance,utility's every day living went up and I'm disabled and fighting cancer and members of congress talk about gas, please. Put all the GOV. on Social Security. Then their wouldn't be No more problems, Because they don't care about the little people. PLEASE GIVE THIS COMMENT TO CONGRESS.
TONY PA Frist of all many seniors don't drive. All the money this country sends to so called third word countries to help there economy never really gets to the people who need it and we get nothing back in return except that most hate us. I can live without the increase but many friends of mine can really use it. the increase in the Medicare is another slap in the face to the people who built this country and paid there taxes. Tell Congress to do the right thing and instead of sending OUR MONEY all over the world help the seniors here at home. Also give some of that money to our universities so the next generation wont spend the rest of there life's paying back school loans. GOD help America congress sure will not.
Lou PA It means that I won't be able to take a few days of vacation. I will have to make sure that I don't use the car for anything other then the necessary trips.
Diana NY If there is no increase in benefits next year and I heard there will be an increase of $45 a month in Medicare, that will mean our benefits will be REDUCED by $540 next year. How many retirees will be able to live on that amount? If there is no increase in benefits, there should be NO increase in Medicare cost. Diana
Irma NY Maybe everyone else is benefiting from the stable numbers...but definitely not Seniors. Every one of my health insurance cost have gone up a lot. My living expenses are higher ...such as Quarterly Water Taxes. Getting help with everyday living is more expensive. Just paying for an emergency Call button at home is $25.00 per month. These things are not factored into Senior living expenses by the government.
Dorothy NY A zero % COLA will mean that I will not have enough money to pay the Medicare deductables for needed cancer screening tests. Medicare is costs are also rising and so are the deductables. Why aren't they tied to the same COLA restrictions?
Robert NH I am 85 and have been retired on a small pension for 28 years. My wife is 81 and has been a resident of a nursing home for one and a half years. I live alone with all of the usual living expenses. The care for my wife at the home is $8060.00 per month and that doesn't include her doctors, medications, clothing and many other expenses. So SS is only a drop in the bucket at best, but every drop counts as my out go exceeds my income about four to one. There are 215 beds in the rest home. I wonder how many are in the same bind as we are. Before our savings were all gone I recently prepaid our funeral expenses. $24000.00 and I already had the graves bought and paid for. Just as if living wasn't bad enough. We can't even afford to die.
terry FL My drug deductible went up to $360.00 for my insulin this year, My auto insurance goes up every six months, They just increased a new tax on my phone bill, My homeowners insurance went up again this year, The price of groceries goes up every month when we buy groceries for example a pound of sliced turkey just went up a dollar a pound this last week and eggs increased an additional dollar a dozen on top of the increase that had just occurred because of the salmonella bacteria scare, The copay on all my medicine increases in 2016. How many more examples do you need? I have to pay all those increases with $1800.00 a month and pay the rent and car payment. I just found out that my Medicare supplement insurance has no dental coverage for 2016 and I need almost $9000.00 worth of dental work done. I guess this is a waste of time they always told me the rich get richer and the poor get poorer and that is being proven to me now.
Donna NY No inflation? Are you serious? Oil prices alone do not inflation make. What about the price of electricity, food, drugs, local taxes, all going up. We can barely survive now, and you say there's no inflation? Who figures this [stuff] out and who decides? Not someone who knows one and one make two. How about you pay back the $2.3 trillion "borrowed" to balance the budget and for the Iraq war? And eliminate that "cap" on FICA taxable earnings that benefits only the people who earn a lot. Social Security and Medicare aren't even a part of the nation's budget, they are a separate fund that citizens paid into out of their paychecks, insurance for when we were too old to work. You took our money and we want it back. Have you no ethics and morality? I am tired of being used by the system.
Kathleen CO I already receive zero from the SSA. Due to my non-repayment of over $5,600 the SSA alleges I owe them, they are keeping my $164 monthly benefit as repayment. As a retired federal employee I am subject to the Government Pension Offset (GPO). Therefore, I (and thousands of other people) lose approximately 90% of benefit I (we) would otherwise receive. As a result of my forgetting to inform the SSA of my government pension increase - due to life events such as caring for a terminally ill family member - the SSA alleges I owe them over $5,600. Had a hearing-that was a joke! Currently, I am taking my battle outside the SSA. However, there is possibility of change but we need support: Bill H.R. 973: Social Security Fairness Act of 2015 submitted by Rep. Rodney Davis, R-IL needs the congressional support. H.R. 973 currently has 122 co-sponsors. We need greater support in order for this bill to repeal both the GPO and the WEP. Both provisions single out many government workers by denying them earned benefits. Entering H.R. 973 online will give information and the listing of co-sponsors. If voters could contact their state reps asking them to support this bill that would be a huge benefit to government workers and retirees. Any support we can receive in contacting state congressional representatives to co-sponsor support for this critically needed bill would be hugely appreciated! Most government retirees will also have our government pension frozen. I have a college degree but still retired at a low grade and do not receive a 'cadillac' pension; as presented in the media. Thank you for presenting this reply option and an opportunity to tell not only my story- but the story of many government workers/retirees; not only at the federal level but at state and local levels. Respectfully submitted.
Geri GA My husband was a "notch baby" so I am receiving a reduced amount of Social Security. I was an independent contractor for 27 years which means I paid both employer- employee taxes on my income. Social Security IS NOT an entitlement! I paid for it! At my age (84) I am trying to exist on $1379 per month. I have been a widow for 20 years. My husband was a heart patient for 22 years and was forced to take medical retirement in 1981. This impacted our income substantially at a time when our two children were in college. I sold the family home and purchased a townhouse for cash. My car is 13 years old. Paying for groceries is a challenge. Need I say more???
Arthu SC It means about $100.00 a month less a month for me . or $100.00 more for the govt. to give to Iran or to the unemployed so they can get more than if they worked.
Derek FL Being the victim of two divorces, I am now in a state of penury. The 2013 COLA amounted to $4.00. It would buy two and a half loaves of bread. 2014 provided $23.00. The price of gasoline has no bearing on the COLA, as you state; the prices of everything else compensating for the break in gas prices.
Craig CA Health care costs keep going up, rent keeps going up, utilities keep going up, cost of food keeps increasing. I fail to see how the cost of gasoline has anything to do with this nor do I subscribe to the low inflation idea. We see lots of price inflation here in CA. These rising costs affect even the basics of life including having to drop health insurance and eat less food. A no-cost of living increase is a travesty based on the need to cut budgets at the Federal level without consideration of its effects. Seniors and Veterans seem to be getting the shaft from our country while the immigrants from the south get FREE benefits out of the budget reserved for our retirement. This is just not right!
Sharon PA No cola will mean that we will need to cut back on expenses, no car (used) my 15 year will have to do. No going to the movies, cutting grocery expenses. We don't know what our medical needs will be and if our insurance will cost more and cover less. I would like to know how government calculates the cola?
Bobby AL It is simply this, you cannot use one consumer product to to determine COLA. What happened to consumer price index? It should go by comparison of all consumer products in a certain period of time (monthly, quarterly, etc). That is the way it can be determined of the items that are necessary for seniors and all people. Items of necessity continually increasing in price, that includes medical and home insurance.
Bob TX I am 76 years old and worked 49 years to earn my Social Security benefits and i and all American Senior Citizens deserve an increase in 2016 and future years. Social Security is the only income that i have and plus i am having to support my 51 year old Son due to back and leg problems which prevents him from working and i can't afford his surgery that he needs to get him back on his feet so he can find a job. So if there is not going to be a cost of living increase it will cause a real hardship on me to make end meet. The President and Congress can give billions of dollars to foreign Countries to help them, but can't afford to help our own American Senior Citizens. " THIS IS A SHAME " Now i know why Russian President Viadimir Putin said that our Ameican Government had Mush for Brains. Yes gas prices have gone down and maybe the economy has improved, but food prices continue to rise especially beef. I haven't had a good steak in a couple of years. Have you noticed that fast food restaurants are serving more chicken sandwiches today than hamburgers to keep the price down and Pizza places are not putting hamburger meat on their Pizza's anymore. " SO DON'T FORGET US SENIOR CITIZENS IN 2016 AND FUTURE YEARS"
Theodore NJ I believe very strongly that the low gas price is a stupid reason for not giving all our Veterans and all our Senior citizens a cost of Living Increase to help OUR Citizens.and yet Our Politicians Can DONATE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO OUR ENEMIES AND THEY HATE US! No 1 they are not to touch our Social Security Fund, If they do,They are BY LAW to redeposit THE AMOUNT Should be With INterest, Our Office Holders should be ashamed of Themselves to let our GOD BLESSED AMERICA TO GO THE WAY IT IS GOING! I am a ww11 Combat Infantry Disabled Veteran of the Pacific War Theatre .I strongly believe that our Washington Office Holders Should reconsider and give us Veterans &Seniors a reasonable cost of Living for 2016 so we can live a decent Life .GOD BLESS AND PROTECT OUR AMERICA
Andrew CA Please be advised, "...congressional members currently receive salary increases through an annual adjustment process in which members receive an automatic cost-of-living increase..." So the United States Congress wants to block cost of living increases for Social Security recipients but is fine with cost of living increases for them. Sounds like Congress is discriminating against Social Security recipients and committing fraud. Average Social Security recipient gets $1,335 monthly. Average salary of a congressman is $174,000 per year.
john MO The people making these decisions are shameless, the same people recently passed a bill allowing multiemployer pension plans to slash retirees pensions up to 70%, due to my age I will only loose 11%. A friend and co-worker is scheduled to loose 50% of his pension, he is 72 years of age and is going through radiation treatments for bone cancer. These parasitical ingrates have the audacity to tell senior citizens they don't need an extra $15 or $20 a month have no concept of the real world. Using falling gas price to gauge inflation, HA, how about using a can of Cambles soup, a loaf of bread or a $150 prescription drug that once cost $15, PEOPLE, THAT'S INFLATION...
David TX It would be awesome to get my Social Security period. I worked for 17 years in the oil production fields for Amoco Production and paid a ton into the Social Security system. I destroyed my back while working out there and had to medically retire. Instead of pushing for social security disability at that time (I was on 3rd appeal) I went to college instead. I majored in Geology & Biology and a minor in Education. I later earned my Masters Degree in Educational Administration. I taught school and was a Principal for 17 additional years. But, in a lot of Texas schools, you do not pay into Social Security. Even still, I worked for 4 districts while as an educator and in two of them I did pay into the S.S. System. My point, after 17 years as an educator, having had in total seven (7) back surgeries, I had to retire! (Go figure!). My nerve damage to my legs is so severe three of seven days during the week I am literally in agony! So, I applied for my 17 years of Social Security paid in as an Oil Field Production Operator as well as my two additional years of S.S. Paid into the system while teaching and guess what??? NO DICE !! The Social Security System informs me that because of the Legislation called the Government Offset Provision and/or the Windfall Wlimination Provision I am no longer qualified to draw my "19" YUP that's NINETEEN YEARS PAID INTO THE SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM!! I was told by S.S.that since I now draw a Teacher Retirement that is paid from the STATE, (and I paid into this each check by-the-way), for my to draw My Social Security would be "double dipping" out of the same pot! Listen, I understand I did not pay into Social Security during my 17 yrs as an educator but (2) out of (17) years. But, I have paid into Social Security (19+) years during my lifetime! So maybe you could explain where my (19+) yrs of Social Security went to??? I have had one of the TX Senators tell me I did not deserve it!! So please explain to me what job "Obama's Immigrants" have had before they ALL started drawing benefits of various types? There is a lot wrong in our country at this time in history. And I know my situation is only important to me and my family. I guess what a Federal Bureaucrat would tell me is "I should have taken a Social Security Disability retirement at 28years of age instead of going back to college!" My friend, I was raised by an honest hard working man that taught me to work and provide for my family. At 28yrs of age, it never crossed my mind to take the Social Security Disibality retirement I was told I would get. Thus, all the money I paid into the system I cannot draw because I did something horrible and got three degrees and spent my life Educating Children!! Please know, I'm surely not fussing at you...I just keep writing various folks hoping someone can help! By the way, please tell me how drawing a State Retirement is double dipping from the Federal Income Tax people?? That one is still puzzling to me!
Dennis CA It is already difficult enough for people that have minimum wage jobs to survive everyday living when you consider the fact that basically everything increases in price yearly. We already know that it has taken a lot of talk by those that are not being paid enough to make officials aware that there needs to be an increase in minimum wage income, which will make it a little easier regarding what they are able to purchase. Those that must count on the government for their income will also need some type of increase in income if they are going to be able to survive monetarily. The current amount that they receive is roughly the same amount as minimum wage income. A 0% increase in Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) will make it nearly impossible for them to get by monetarily. Nothing is free, they already have to avoid some of the most important living expenses that are necessary, and the price of things that they do need and can afford will cost them even more. It makes you wonder what else they will have to exclude from their expenses this year. It does not impact me directly, but only because I do not receive the same exact type of government income. However, I do know many others that do receive that type of income, and I am very aware of how much they are struggling just to get by monthly.


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