U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, R-Calif., recently introduced the Fair COLA for Seniors Act of 2021 to require Social Security to use the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly to calculate a "fairer cost of living adjustment" (COLA) for seniors.
The bill would increase benefits and ensure that cost of living adjustments in Social Security reflect the real rising costs for seniors and disabled Americans. From 1982 to 2011, CPI-E rose at an annual average rate of 3.1 percent, compared with 2.9 percent for the methods that are currently used, the congressman said in a news release.
Garamendi introduced similar legislation in 2019, but it did not go anywhere.
Original Cosponsors: Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Marilyn Strickland (D-WA), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Brendan F. Boyle (D-PA), Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-MP), Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Anthony G. Brown (D-MD), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Ann M. Kuster (D-NH), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Ted W. Lieu (D-CA), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL).
“Seniors and disabled citizens rely on Social Security benefits for a large portion of their income, and it’s about time for Social Security benefits to reflect their lifestyles,” said Garamendi. “Using a COLA that actually reflects how retirees spend their money – especially in health care – is a no-brainer that will increase benefits and make Social Security work better for the people it serves.”
The legislation has already earned broad support, with 23 original co-sponsorships and key support from leading advocacy groups and labor organizations.
“Social Security Works applauds Rep. Garamendi for championing Social Security and sponsoring the Fair COLA for Seniors Act of 2021,” said Nancy Altman, President of Social Security Works. “One of the most valuable features of Social Security is its inflation protection. However, the current method of calculating inflation under-measures the cost of living of seniors and people with disabilities who are disproportionately burdened by rising costs of prescription drugs and other essential medical care. By more accurately accounting for the costs faced by Social Security beneficiaries, this legislation better prevents the erosion over time of Social Security’s modest but vital earned benefits.”