Legislative Update for Week Ending October 23, 2015

Legislative Update for Week Ending October 23, 2015

This week, The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) announced its support for one new piece of legislation that would give Social Security beneficiaries a cost-of-living adjustment next year. In addition, one key bill gained eight new cosponsors.

TSCL Endorses New COLA Bill

This week, TSCL announced its support for the Seniors Deserve a Raise Act (H.R. 3761), a bill that was recently introduced by Congressman Alan Grayson (FL-9). If signed into law, it would give seniors a 2.9 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) next year instead of the zero COLA that the Social Security Administration announced last week. It would also base future COLAs on the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E) – a more accurate inflation index that tracks the spending patterns of only those sixty-two and older.

Earlier this year, Congressman Grayson requested a memo from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) to illustrate the difference between the CPI-E and the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners (CPI-W) – the index that is currently used to calculate COLAs. The memo showed that since 1982, the CPI-E has been 0.2 percent higher on average, and if it were used, it would have paid out $388 billion more in benefits over the past thirty-three years.

In a press release, Congressman Grayson wrote, “The promise we made is to protect the purchasing power of seniors' earned benefits against inflation. The CPI-E does this while the CPI-W does not.”

TSCL agrees that the CPI-E is a better measure of the inflation that seniors actually experience since it puts a heavier weight on market goods like prescription drugs, medical care, and housing costs. According to our research, seniors have lost over 20 percent of their purchasing power since 2000, and last year, their benefits increased by only around $19 while their expenses jumped by nearly $120. These are clear signs that the COLA is an inaccurate measure of inflation and that it is growing too slowly.

In a letter of support that was delivered to Congressman Grayson, Ed Cates – TSCL’s Chairman – wrote: “I would like to commend you for being a true champion for Social Security beneficiaries in the U.S. House of Representatives … The Senior Citizens League lends its enthusiastic support and the support of its membership to the Seniors Deserve a Raise Act. We believe your bill would go a long way in ensuring the retirement security seniors have earned and deserve.”

TSCL looks forward to working with Congressman Grayson in the months ahead to build support for his critical new bill. We will post updates on the progress of the Seniors Deserve a Raise Act here in the Legislative News section of our website, and on our new Facebook page.

Key Bill Gains Support

This week, eight new cosponsors signed on to the CPI-E Act, bringing the total up to twenty-one. The new cosponsors are: Reps. Bob Brady (PA-1), Hank Johnson (GA-4), Mark Pocan (WI-2), Brendan Boyle (PA-13), Chaka Fattah (PA-2), Brian Higgins (NY-26), Betty McCollum (MN-4), and Louise Slaughter (NY-25).

The bill, if signed into law, would base Social Security COLAs on the CPI-E, which would result in more fair and accurate annual increases for seniors, military retirees, and others. TSCL supports the CPI-E Act enthusiastically, and we were pleased to see such a strong showing of support for it this week.