2009-09-18 / Top Stories

Representative Weiner Blasts Plan to Freeze COLAs

Representative Anthony Weiner blasted the plan to deny Social Security recipients cost of living adjustments (COLA) in 2010 and 2011. This would be the first time since 1975 that there wouldn't be an increase to Social Security payments.

Weiner said, "To say that the costs for seniors will not go up for two years is to pretend that the laws of economic gravity don't apply to older people. Rent is up. Food prices are up. Bus and subway fares are up. Healthcare costs are up. The purpose of the COLA is to help seniors keep up. The Social Security Administration seems to have forgotten that mission."

Both the Obama administration and the Congressional Budget Office are forecasting that Social Security beneficiaries will not receive any cost of living adjustments in fiscal years 2010 or 2011 because of the pronounced recession in the US. The net result of no 2010 COLA means that the millions of Social Security recipients will see their monthly benefit check remain flat.

Regardless of the recession, New York City seniors have been hit with growing costs:

• Seniors signing leases in rent-controlled apartments got walloped with a 6% increase.

• Food prices in NYC area have gone up by 1.4 % in the last year according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

• Premiums for the Medicare prescription drug plans will increase 7% from an average monthly premium of $28 in 2009 to $30 in 2010.

• The cost to ride a bus or subway has risen by 10% for seniors.

Weiner is the lead sponsor of the COLA Fairness Act, which would ensure that Social Security benefits keep up with the rising costs in NYC by creating a new "regional" Cost of Living Adjustment so that seniors who live in expensive areas, such as New York City, aren't penalized. If enacted, New York's seniors would receive an additional 2.1% in Social Security benefits over a five year time period.

"For Social Security, which is the sole or primary source of income for many senior citizens in this country, not to keep pace with the cost of living is inexcusable.

The cost of food has gone up, the price of medications and health insurance has gone up, public transportation fares have risen," said State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. "Social Security absolutely must accommodate for these increases because the people who depend on it often have no other means of support. The cost of living adjustment is meant to bridge the financial gap between last year's and the current year's costs, and not including it in the budget means that thousands of senior citizens will not be able to cross that gap."

"For many seniors, Social Security is a lifeline,' Said Assemblywoman Mayersohn. "They have spent their lives working to uphold our nation's values, and caring for them now should be our number one priority. Inflation may not be rising, but to pretend that the expenses of daily life are not is naive. Seniors should not have to choose between eating and paying their rent."

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