Tuesday, February 19, 2013

SS benefits threatened by "Chained CPI"

By David Mitchell
AARP Arizona State Director

Social Security is more important today than it’s ever been as seniors are living longer and trying to cope with rising health care, drugs, and utility costs.  But right now there’s a plan circulating in Washington that would reduce benefits substantially called the “chained CPI”. 

Supporters portray it as a more accurate reading of the cost-of-living.  But that is a profound misunderstanding of the real-life choices most seniors confront to make ends meet. 

The fact is that the “chained CPI” represents a significant benefit cut and over the course of a lifetime, would cost the average senior thousands of dollars. 

The “chained CPI” would also take a disproportionate toll on women who typically live longer than men and are more likely to rely on income from Social Security. It also assumes that when the cost of something rises, seniors can simply switch to a lower-cost substitute.

If only life were that easy for most older Americans. 
For most seniors, it’s not simply a matter of comparative shopping at the supermarket.  Seniors already choose lower-cost options and also spend much of their money on health care and utilities that don’t have lower-cost substitutes. 

Social Security didn’t cause the deficit and shouldn’t be cut to fix Washington’s budget problem.  Surely our elected officials can find a way to strengthen the country’s finances without taking even more from Social Security-- a self-financed program that provides earned benefits.

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