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Senator backs payment to seniors denied Social Security hike

February 4, 2016
By A.J. Rao (editorial@westfieldrepublican.com) , Westfield Republican

Social Security recipients, including more than a million Upstate New Yorkers, were denied a typical benefit increase this year, even though living expenses have continued to rise.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer told reporters on a conference call this week that seniors, veterans and individuals with disabilities were denied this increase because there was no cost-of-living adjustment or COLA to their Social Security checks this year - a result of a "flawed" funding formula used by the government, he said.

To fix this, Schumer, D-N.Y., announced his support for the Seniors and Veterans Emergency Benefits Act, also known as SAVE, which would provide a one-time payment of $580 to those seniors affected.

The one-time payments would be paid for by closing a loophole that benefits corporate compensation packages of over $1 million. Additional revenue from closing the loophole will go toward extending the life of Social Security.

"Millions of seniors, veterans, and individuals who are disabled deserve and need a little more money in their Social Security checks to help pay for the ever-increasing cost of rent, medicine and groceries," Schumer said. "But unless Congress acts, and acts fast, upstate New Yorkers will not see any increase in their earned benefits this year - meaning it will be harder for some of our most vulnerable to pay for their living expenses."

COLA, which ensures that the purchasing power of Social Security benefits is not eroded by inflation, is based on increases in the Consumer Price Index for urban wage earners and clerical workers.

According to Schumer, the annual change in the CPI is used as a measure of inflation, and the federal government's CPI formula is heavily tied to the prices of gas and energy - both of which have fallen and are largely to blame for zero increases in Social Security benefits.

"COLA is very important because it means if you're a senior and the water is up to your neck ... at least it won't rise above your nostrils," Schumer said. "It doesn't make anyone richer or better off than they were before, but it prevents you from being worse off as your costs go up."

Schumer said the $580 payment is equal to roughly three months of groceries for seniors, or the average annual out-of-pocket expenses for prescription drugs from Medicare.

According to the Social Security Administration's Master Beneficiary Record, there were a total of 1,763,680 Social Security beneficiaries in Upstate New York in 2014.

In Western New York, there were approximately 308,525 Social Security beneficiaries, including 214,555 senior citizens and 51,915 disabled workers.

 
 
 

 

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