Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) introduced Thursday a bill that would require Social Security to use the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E) to calculate a cost of living adjustment (COLA) for seniors.
If passed, the Fair COLA for Seniors Act of 2019 aims to increase benefits and ensure that cost of living adjustments in Social Security reflect the real rising costs for seniors and disabled Americans, according to statement from Garamandi.
From 1982 to 2011, (CPI-E) rose at an annual average rate of 3.1 percent, compared with 2.9 percent for the methods that are currently used. More information on the CPI-E can be found from the Bureau of Labor Statistics here.
SEE ALSO: How Are COLAs Calculated?
“Our seniors and disabled citizens rely on Social Security benefits for a large portion of their income, and it’s about time for Social Security benefits to reflect their lifestyles,” said Garamendi. “Using a COLA that actually reflects how retirees spend their money – especially in health care – is a no-brainer that will increase benefits and make Social Security work better for the people it serves.”
Garamandi says the legislation has already earned broad support, with 17 original co-sponsorships and key support from leading advocacy groups and labor organizations.
“Social Security Works applauds Rep. Garamendi for championing Social Security and sponsoring the Fair COLA for Seniors Act of 2019,” said Nancy Altman, Founding Co-Director of Social Security Works. “One of the most valuable features of Social Security is its inflation protection. However, the current method of calculating inflation under-measures the cost of living of seniors and people with disabilities who are disproportionately burdened by rising costs of prescription drugs and other essential medical care. By more accurately accounting for the costs faced by Social Security beneficiaries, this legislation better prevents the erosion over time of Social Security’s modest but vital earned benefits.”
Last month, Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) reintroduced the Equal COLA Act which aims to bring equity to the way the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is determined under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).