Representative Steve Rothman (D-NJ), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, led 40 members of the House of Representative in urging President Barack Obama to support a one-time $500 payment to Social Security recipients in place of a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2011. President Obama has already included $250 for seniors this year in his 2010 budget.
Social Security cost of living adjustments, which are based on inflation, have risen every year since their inception in 1975. As a result of the recession, inflation has not been sufficiently high to trigger a cost-of-living adjustment over the past two years. Meanwhile, seniors' expenses have continued to grow with the cost of medical care.
Immediately following the Social Security Administration's announcement that there would be no COLA for seniors in 2011, for the second consecutive year, Rep. Rothman asked his colleagues to join him in signing a letter that was sent to the President on October 22 regarding the $500 for 2011. Rep. Rothman already supports the $250 to seniors for 2010.
"It is clear that the Social Security Administration's current measurements used to compute the Social Security COLA underestimates the cost-of-living expenses of older Americans," said Rep. Rothman.
Rep. Rothman is also a cosponsor of H.R. 2365, The Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers Act, which would permanently fix the flawed formula that has left seniors without a COLA for two years in a row. The act would take into account the spending habits of elderly consumers specifically instead of society as a whole. H.R. 2365 is currently pending before the House Committees on Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce and Education and Labor.
Dear President Obama:
The Social Security Administration announced today that there will be no cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security beneficiaries in 2011 for the second year in a row. We appreciated your leadership on this issue last year, when you included funds for a $250 supplemental payment for Social Security recipients in your Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Request, and we are very disappointed that this effort was blocked in the Senate. In light of today's announcement, we are writing to urge you to include a $500 payment for seniors in your Budget Request for next year to make up for the lack of COLA for 2010 and 2011. This supplemental payment would help millions of seniors, who depend on their hard-earned Social Security benefits, to make ends meet.
As a result of the recession, the Consumer Price Index has not been sufficiently high to trigger a cost-of-living adjustment over the past two years. Medical costs, however, have continued to increase, straining the fixed budgets of American seniors. Moreover, Medicare Part D premiums, which are deducted from Social Security payments for many beneficiaries, have continued to rise, leaving millions of seniors with a lower monthly income. It is clear that the Consumer Price Index, which is the current measure used to compute the Social Security COLA, understates cost-of-living expenses of older Americans, who face much higher medical costs than the rest of our society. While we must work to permanently fix this flawed formula to ensure that this never happens again, seniors urgently need financial relief after a second year without a COLA.
This recession, like any other economic downturn, has had the harshest effects on the most vulnerable in our society. We owe it to American seniors to honor the promise made to them in their working years, and ensure that they do not face poverty in their golden years after a life of hard work.
We appreciate your leadership in protecting seniors and look forward to working with you on this very important issue.
Member of Congress