Legislative Update for Week Ending March 3, 2017

Legislative Update for Week Ending March 3, 2017

This week, Congressman John Garamendi (CA-3) introduced legislation that would base Social Security cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) on a more accurate measure of inflation. In addition, The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) announced its support for a bill that would make the Social Security program more equitable for public servants.

Congressman Garamendi Introduces CPI-E Act

On Wednesday, Congressman John Garamendi (CA-3) introduced the Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers (CPI-E) Act (H.R. 1251) at a press conference with several advocates for older Americans, including TSCL. If adopted, his bill would base Social Security COLAs on a more accurate measure of inflation using the CPI-E. Currently, they are based on the way young workers spend their money using the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners (CPI-W).

Since 2000, Social Security benefits have lost 23 percent of their purchasing power due to inaccurate inflation adjustments based on the CPI-W. This year, for instance, seniors would be receiving a 2.1 percent Social Security benefit increase if the COLA were based on the CPI-E. Instead, they are receiving a 0.3 percent COLA that is offset completely by increased Medicare Part B premiums.

With medical costs and prescription drug prices rising higher than ever before, seniors living on fixed incomes are struggling to keep up and can no longer afford to be short-changed by the Social Security COLA. At Wednesday’s press conference, Congressman Garamendi said: “Today — March 1st — we declare that something can be done.”

TSCL enthusiastically supports Rep. Garamendi’s CPI-E Act, and we thank him for his leadership on this important issue. In the months ahead, we look forward to working with his office to build support for the bill. In the meantime, we urge our members and supporters to contact their elected officials to request their support for H.R. 1251. For contact information, click HERE.

TSCL Endorses Social Security Fairness Act

This week, TSCL endorsed the Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 1205), which was recently introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Rodney Davis (IL-13) with the bipartisan support of seventy-seven original cosponsors.

If signed into law, the bill would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) – two provisions of the Social Security Act that cut the earned benefits of millions of teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other public servants each year. Because these individuals receive pensions from their state or local governments, their monthly Social Security checks are arbitrarily reduced, often by one-half or more.

In a letter to Congressman Davis, Art Cooper – Chairman of TSCL’s Board of Trustees – wrote: “According to a recent study completed by TSCL, Social Security beneficiaries have lost over 20 percent of their purchasing power since 2000. Those who are subjected to the WEP and the GPO have undoubtedly fallen even further behind. It is now more important than ever for Congress to address the inequities that have been created by the WEP and the GPO, and TSCL believes the Social Security Fairness Act is a fair and responsible solution.”

For more information on the Social Security Fairness Act, visit the Bill Tracking section of our website. To stay updated on its progress in Congress, follow TSCL on Facebook or Twitter.