With a series of debates expected this year around the federal budget debt and deficits, it is important to remember the promises made by politicians to protect Social Security benefits for current seniors.
However, some in Washington are now pushing a budget proposal (called the "chained CPI") that would cut Social Security and other benefits for today's seniors and veterans — including disabled veterans and military retirees. The hidden consequence of this proposal means that current and future seniors and veterans would lose $146 billion in benefits over the next 10 years — and for the oldest Americans, that would mean losing a full month's check.
AARP believes that Americans deserve better than shortsighted cuts to their hard-earned benefits.
The impact of switching to chained CPI
The chained CPI proposal would lower the yearly cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security and veterans' benefits, leaving seniors and veterans struggling to keep up with the rising cost of utilities, health care and drugs. It would reduce Social Security and veterans' benefits by larger amounts every year, hurting people more as they age and their retirement savings start to run out.
Social Security is separately paid for with the contributions of hard-working Americans and employers. Washington should not try to reduce the budget deficit by cutting the earned Social Security benefits for the typical senior with an income of $20,000 a year and benefits for veterans who sacrificed for our nation. Instead, Washington should find other responsible ways to address our nation's budget challenges.
Four reasons why the chained CPI is the wrong solution
1. It's a benefit cut. The chained CPI is a significant benefit cut, not some "technical change," as some in Washington would like you to believe.
2. Cuts get deeper every year. The chained CPI would cut benefits more with every passing year, costing seniors, veterans and our nation's most vulnerable thousands of dollars over their lifetimes.
3. It cuts benefits for today's seniors. Most politicians promised during the 2012 campaign not to cut Social Security for current seniors. The chained CPI would break that promise, cutting benefits that today's seniors and veterans have earned through a lifetime of hard work.
4. It's less accurate for seniors. The chained CPI assumes that when the cost of something you normally buy goes up, you will substitute a lower-cost item. This theory fails the many seniors and veterans who spend much of their money on basic goods like prescription drugs, utilities and heath care — which don't have lower-cost substitutes. Even the current CPI fails to take into account just how much more seniors spend on health care, which rises in cost even faster than inflation.
AARP urges the president and Congress to reject the chained CPI proposal, which would result in shortsighted cuts to hard-earned Social Security and veterans' benefits. We believe Americans deserve a separate, national conversation about how to protect Social Security for today's seniors and strengthen the program for future generations.
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