NYC Seniors Squeezed By Rising Costs
Rising housing, food and health care costs for New York's senior citizens are outpacing Social Security adjustments, according to a new study released today by Represen-tative Anthony Weiner, co-chair of the Bi-partisan Congressional Caucus on the Middle Class.
Social Security cost of living allowances (COLAs), which are designed to help seniors with these rising costs, simply have not kept pace. COLAs were increased by 5.8 percent this past year - the largest increase in 25 years. But according to the Consumer Price Index, prices in New York City have risen by more than 20 percent over the past 5 years.
The new analysis shows that the basic cost of living in New York City has spiked dramatically since 2007:
* Medicare prescription drug premiums have jumped 12 percent.
* Rents for rent stabilized apartments have increased by as much as 8.5 percent according to the Rent Guidelines Board.
* Food prices increased 7.3 percent - the biggest increase in any 12-month period since 1990.
There are close to 300,000 seniors in Queens. More than 182,000 New York City seniors earn under $11,000 a year, and depend heavily on their social security check as their sole source of income. In fact, the average Social Security income in New York City is only $13,505.
To address the regional differences in costs for seniors, Weiner has introduced the COLA Fairness Act in each Congress since being elected and plans to reintroduce legislation in the 111th Congress. Rep. Weiner's COLA Fairness Act determines COLAs based on regions so that seniors in expensive areas, such as New York City, aren't punished; and if enacted, the legislation would provide New York seniors with a 2 percent boost in Social Security benefits over 5 years.
"While many New Yorkers are struggling with rising prices, our senior citizens are taking it on the chin," said Weiner.
"The last thing New York City seniors should have to worry about after spending a lifetime working, paying taxes, and playing by the rules is affording food or housing."