Legislative Update: April 2016

Legislative Update: April 2016

Should Congress Guarantee A Minimum COLA?

By Jessie Gibbons, Senior Policy Analyst

Millions of Social Security beneficiaries are perplexed as to why they received no increase in their monthly Social Security checks in January. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), inflation was lower than normal in 2015, due in large part to cheap prices at the gas pumps. But seniors are telling us they actually did experience higher prices last year, especially for things like medical costs, property taxes, electricity, and other housing expenses.

This isn’t the first time beneficiaries have gone without a Social Security COLA. In the past seven years alone, it’s happened three times, and according to consumer price index data, there’s a possibility it could happen again in 2017. The COLA has averaged just 1.2 percent since 2009, while in the prior decade it averaged more than 3 percent. Record-low COLAs are taking a large toll on Social Security benefits, and TSCL fears this could have a devastating impact on the long-term adequacy of benefits for millions of older adults.

That’s why it’s more important than ever for Congress to pass the Guaranteed 3% COLA Act (H.R. 3588) before the end of this year. If signed into law, it would base Social Security COLAs on a more accurate measure of inflation – one created just for older Americans – and it would provide a minimum benefit increase of 3 percent each year, even when the BLS says inflation was lower than that amount.

TSCL has been advocating for the Guaranteed 3% COLA Act, since it was first introduced by Congressman Eliot Engel in 2009. But we need the help of supporters like you to make its passage a reality before the end of this year. Here are six simple ways you can help.

  • Call your Members of Congress toll free today at 844-455-0045 to request their support for the Guaranteed 3% COLA Act (H.R. 3588).
  • Write a letter or email to those Members of Congress, too. Many offices respond to each piece of mail they receive.
  • Sign our urgent petition. You can find the petition on our website, or in mail packages that you receive from us.
  • Ask questions about the bill at your next town hall meeting and request that your Members of Congress become official cosponsors. Voicing your concerns during town halls will raise awareness and public support for the bill.
  • Send a letter to the editor of your local paper urging others to support the Guaranteed 3% COLA Act.
  • Vote in the upcoming November elections. Be sure to research the candidates to ensure that your interests on important issues like Social Security align. But first, double-check that your voter registration is up to date, especially if you have recently moved!

For contact information or tips on communicating effectively with your Members of Congress, you can call our office any time at (800) 333-8725, or contact us for assistance. For more information about the Guaranteed 3% COLA Act, be sure to check out Congressman Engel’s “Congressional Corner” article.