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Older Voters Oppose Switch to Chained CPI

Survey shows overwhelming majority wants Social Security 'off the table' in budget talks

En español | More than two-thirds of older voters oppose changing the formula that's used to make cost-of-living adjustments in Social Security, veterans benefits, food stamps and other federal programs.

Speak up about the future of Social Security

The finding, included in results from a nationwide survey of registered voters age 50 and older, conducted for AARP on March 19 and 20 by Woelfel Research Inc., comes as President Obama prepares to release a budget proposal that reportedly includes just such a change, a twist on the consumer price index called the chained CPI.

The chained CPI would reduce the expected benefit increase each year, and reductions would grow larger over time.

Older voters, the poll found, are nearly unanimous in their belief that Social Security benefits should not be reduced for today's seniors, with 87 percent saying the issue is "very important" to them.

Similarly lopsided margins of older voters believe that Social Security should be "off the table" in the current budget debate. In particular, 84 percent said that they oppose reducing Social Security benefits as a means of reducing the federal budget deficit. The same percentage of older voters said that the future of the retirement security program should be considered separately, and as the graph below shows, political affiliation made barely any difference.

(Place your cursor over the colored pillars in each graph to see the detailed results.)

The AARP survey also asked specific questions about the chained CPI.

Of those surveyed, 70 percent said they oppose using a chained CPI for Social Security and 78 percent said they oppose using a chained CPI for veterans benefits. The following table provides more detailed breakdowns:

In addition, 52 percent of those surveyed said they oppose using a chained CPI to adjust the tax code for inflation and 34 percent said they support that idea (13 percent said they didn't know and 1 percent declined to answer). The voters surveyed, who were split almost equally among Democrats, Republicans and independents, also sounded a strong note for Capitol Hill lawmakers who might support a switch to the chained CPI. Two-thirds (66 percent) said they would have less favorable feelings toward their representative in Congress for voting that way.

Group of people standing

According to a new AARP survey, the vast majority of adults 50 and older are concerned about using the chained CPI to calculate Social Security and other benefits. — Corbis

The results of the AARP poll of older voters are generally in line with previous survey results on the chained CPI. A Bloomberg News survey conducted last September, for example, found 52 percent of Americans of all ages opposed to changing the cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security. And an earlier AARP survey, in December 2012, also found strong opposition to the idea among older Americans, with 61 percent of respondents opposed to changing the cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security.

To see how the chained CPI could impact your current or future benefits, use the AARP Chained CPI Calculator. Watch the video at the bottom of this page to see how the chained CPI reduces Social Security and other benefits.

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Video Extra

WHAT THE HECK IS THE CHAINED CPI? In this whiteboard video David Certner, AARP's legislative policy director, demonstrates how the chained CPI reduces Social Security benefits.

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