As the Social Security Administration announces today that for the second year in a row seniors and the disabled will not have a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree voiced her strong support forlegislation to provide a $250 check for Social Security recipients. Pingree signed on as a cosponsor to the legislation in September and House Speaker Pelosi has just announced that she will bring it to a vote in November.
"Our seniors have been struggling in this down economy to make ends meet and now they face yet another year without a COLA increase. They're very concerned and so am I," said Pingree. "They've worked too hard and too long for us to stand by when they're in need. This check will not take care of the entire problem, but it will provide a critical boost when Maine seniors and our local economies need it most. I'm glad the Speaker has made this issue a priority and will bring this legislation to a vote next month."
Since 1975, the COLA for Social Security benefits has been automatically tied to inflation statistics provided by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Inflation rose sharply in 2008, resulting in the largest COLA in over 15 years. But the CPI went down in 2009 due to the economic crisis and though it has risen in 2010, it has not come back to 2008 levels--making Social Security benefits flat over these three years (they cannot go down due to deflation). Social Security recipients did receive a $250 check to compensate for last year's lack of a COLA.
Earlier this week, Pingree wrote a letter to President Obama asking him to take leadership in proposing a funding model that better reflects the rising costs of what seniors need to purchase. While it's now tied to the CPIW, which is based on costs for urban and clerical workers, Pingree proposes using the CPIE, based on costs for the elderly.