‘Stingy’ Increase in Social Security Benefits Puts New Focus on the Need For a Better System, Says AMAC Chief Dan Weber
I was incensed when I learned of the 2017 .3% COLA
WASHINGTON, DC, Oct 28 – “The Social Security Administration added insult to injury when it announced last week that those receiving benefits can look forward to a miserly three tenths of one percent increase beginning in January. This, comes on the heels of a year when older Americans had to make do with no increase at all, severely limiting the ability of many seniors to make a choice between food and electricity,” Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens, said in a statement issued today.
“I was incensed when I learned of the 2017 .3% Cost Of Living Adjustment. It was bad enough when the SSA opted last year to forego a COLA entirely, a move that had dire consequences for millions of impoverished seniors. The announcement of the stingiest COLA it has ever offered this year hardly makes up for the SSA’s ill-advised decision last year.
“The National Council on Aging tells us that over 25 million Americans aged 60 and over are economically insecure. The Institute for Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University puts the level of economic insecurity among seniors at 36%. And the Social Security Administration, itself, blatantly admits that among elderly Social Security beneficiaries, 21% of married couples and 43% of unmarried persons rely on Social Security for 90% or more of their income. It is against this grim backdrop that acting SSA Commissioner Carolyn Colvin has the temerity to describe Social Security as an anti-poverty program.
“Medical costs, food costs and the costs of heating and air conditioning and other necessities have increased sharply in recent years, leaving the elderly with difficult choices to make.
“They paid their hard-earned money into Social Security; the government didn’t put in one cent. They did it so that when they could not work any longer, they would have something set aside that they could use for the essentials. But the $4.00 or $5.00 average increase in monthly benefits they’ll receive next year is barely enough to pay for an extra pound of ground chuck in many parts of the country.
“Earlier this year, we initiated an effort to achieve passage of bi-partisan legislation, The Seniors Act, H.R. 4140, that would provide a one-time, lump-sum payment of one percent to Social Security recipients who were denied a cost of living increase this year. AMAC is calling for both Presidential candidates to push for passage of this bill before the end of the year.
“Meanwhile, AMAC is also addressing the special needs of poorer Social Security beneficiaries in a proposal we call the Social Security Guarantee. It would provide beneficiaries earning a household income of $20,000 or less with an annual COLA of three to four percent. Recipients with incomes ranging from $20,000 to $50,000 would receive an annual cost of living increase of 1.5% to 3% maximum. And, those earning $50,001 or more would collect increases of 1% to 2%.
“The plan would phase in a change, starting in 2017, in the normal retirement age by adding three months each year so that by 2024 the normal retirement age would be age 69, instead of the present age 66-67 depending on birth year. Early retirement would still be available at 62 years of age. It would also adjust the Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) keeping lower income earners benefits the same and lowering benefits for higher income earners.
“Another important feature of our Guarantee is an Early Retirement Account as a way for those paying into Social Security to have some control of how the money is invested. It’s similar to an IRA or a 401(k) plan, he says. But, in order to ensure that the ERA users avoid risky investments, half of the money deposited in their ERA accounts would have to be invested in guaranteed interest products such as government bonds or annuity contracts. Workers would be free to invest their balances in any other investment that meets certain suitability standards.”
The Association of Mature American Citizens [http://www.amac.us] is a vibrant, vital senior advocacy organization that takes its marching orders from its members. We act and speak on their behalf, protecting their interests and offering a practical insight on how to best solve the problems they face today. Live long and make a difference by joining us today at http://amac.us/join-amac.