WASHINGTON D.C.— Congressman Eliot L. Engel, lead sponsor of the Guaranteed 3% COLA for Seniors Act, released the following statement on the Social Security Administration’s announcement that seniors’ Social Security benefits will increase 2 percent in 2018, a bump of about $25 per month for the average senior citizen:
“While next year’s cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will be an improvement over previous years’, it is still inadequate. Seniors should be able to count on a reasonable COLA and have peace of mind that they’ll be able to make ends meet from year to year.
“This is a fixable problem. COLAs are tied to a measure of inflation called the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). This index doesn’t adequately measure the types of costs older Americans usually face. Seniors have unique spending habits, usually spending less on travel and gasoline and more on medication and housing than younger cohorts. The Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks an alternative index, the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E), which specifically accounts for seniors’ typical expenses to measure inflation. Using the CPI-E would allow the government to more accurately base COLAs on the true living costs that seniors face. What’s more, the CPI-E regularly determines a greater cost-of-living increase than the CPI-W.
“That is why I have introduced the Guaranteed 3% COLA for Seniors Act, which requires the use of the more appropriate CPI-E to determine annual COLAs. In addition, my bill would ensure seniors receive at least a 3% COLA every year, even if the CPI-E COLA falls below this amount.
“Our current system forces seniors to live in fear of paltry COLAs that won’t meet their needs. I will continue pushing to fix this problem and afford seniors the raises they deserve.”
Please note this statement was originally published on October 16, 2017 by Congressman Engel’s House of Representative’s office and posted to this website no sooner than 72 hours after initial publication.