Legislative Update: December 2016

Legislative Update: December 2016

Join the Effort to Pass an Emergency COLA

By Jessie Gibbons, Senior Policy Analyst

What has existing without an annual cost-of-living adjustment been like for retirees?  Last year Alan of Nevada told us, “No COLA means I will be going to the doctor less, going some nights without food, and I will probably have to let my car go … No COLA is an insult to all of us who depend on Social Security for our income.”

For people like Alan, the passage of an emergency COLA would provide much-needed relief at a time when Social Security benefits are simply not keeping up with rising healthcare costs.  Just days remain in the lame duck session of the 114th Congress, but The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) and many others in Washington are not giving up the fight for an emergency COLA.

The inflation index that’s currently used to calculate COLAs isn’t doing the job for retired and disabled Americans since it’s based on the way young, urban workers spend their money.  It leaves out rapidly rising costs like Medicare premiums, while giving more weight to items younger adults spend more on, like gasoline and electronics.  In fact, had the COLA been based on a more accurate measure of inflation for older Americans, Social Security beneficiaries would not have received a zero COLA in 2016.

That’s why we’re urging Congress to pass an emergency Social Security COLA in the 114th Congress, which comes to a close on January 3, 2017.  The deadline may be approaching quickly, but it is not too late for Congress to take action.

Introduced by Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Representative Tammy Duckworth (IL-8), the Seniors and Veterans Emergency (SAVE) Benefits Act (S. 2251, H.R. 4144) would provide Social Security beneficiaries with a one-time emergency COLA of 3.9%.  It would cover the cost responsibly by closing a corporate compensation loophole that provides million-dollar tax breaks to CEOs of top corporations.  For the average retiree, the emergency COLA would amount to around $580 dollars.

With so little time before the end of the 114th Congress, TSCL needs your help to build support for emergency COLA legislation.  Here’s what you can do…

  • Call your Members of Congress toll free today at 844-455-0045 to request their support for the SAVE Benefits Act.
  • Write a letter or email to your Members of Congress. Many offices respond directly to each piece of mail they receive.
  • Contact top leaders in the House and Senate as well to urge them to bring the SAVE Benefits Act up for a vote before the end of the 114th Congress.
  • Sign our urgent petition, which we’ll personally deliver by hand to each of your elected officials. You can find the petition on our website, or in mail packages that you receive from us.
  • Send a letter to the editor of your local paper urging others to support the SAVE Benefits Act.

For contact information or tips on communicating effectively with your Members of Congress, you can call our office any time at (800) 333-8725.  For more information about the SAVE Benefits Act, be sure to check out Senator Elizabeth Warren’s “Congressional Corner” article “Washington Should Be Talking About Protecting And Expanding Social Security — Not Cutting It!