Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, joined the Alliance for Retired Americans on their National Day of Action to make their voices heard about the consequences of implementing chained CPI to calculate the cost of living adjustment, or COLA, Social Security benefits.
"For over 70 years, Social Security has been a safety net for seniors, ensuring that they can retire without fear of significant financial hardship, and a lifeline for disabled Americans as they strive to live full and productive lives," Higgins said. "Attempts to (reduce) our deficit and grow our economy should not come at the expense of seniors."
In Higgins' Congressional district, 157,562 seniors receive Social Security benefits, and 30,250 individuals receive Supplemental Security Income benefits. In 2012, the average annual benefit for beneficiaries aged 65 and older was less than $15,000. Higgins' camp said two out of five retirees rely on Social Security for 90 percent of their retirement.
"Senior citizens have spent a lifetime working hard at their jobs, supporting their families and paying into Social Security. They should be able to retire in dignity. They should not have to unnecessarily endure cuts to their financial well-being at the most vulnerable time in their lives," said Steve Muscarella, retiree and president of the Erie/Niagara Chapter of the NYS Alliance for Retired Americans.
The Alliance for Retired Americans said application of the chained CPI would reduce the annual COLA for beneficiaries by 0.3 percent every year, on average. Under this proposal, someone retiring at age 65 would lose nearly $5,000 in benefits by age 75. By age 85, they would lose almost $10,000. If they lived until 95, they would lose more than $15,000.
Higgins is one of 113 cosponsors of H. Con. Res. 34, which opposes using chained CPI to COLA for Social Security benefits.