The Social Security Administration just made its annual announcement of what the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security would be in 2013. Drumroll, please: benefits will increase by 1.7 percent starting in January. For the typical single elderly woman whose monthly benefit is only $1,100, that amounts to $19 per month to meet the rising costs of food, gas – and health care.
No one who tries to make ends meet just on Social Security benefits – as millions of women do – would think that was too much.
The COLA is an important part of Social Security. It helps prevent the value of Social Security benefits from being eroded by inflation over time. But even the current COLA underestimates inflation for the elderly and people with disabilities because it doesn’t take account of their greater health care spending. And some Members of Congress engaged in closed-door, deficit-reduction talks are looking at a proposal which would reduce annual COLAs and thus cut Social Security benefits by switching to a different Consumer Price Index, the chained CPI. The proposal was part of the Bowles-Simpson deficit-reduction plan and the plan outlined by the so-called “Gang of Six” Senators last year – and it’s still getting serious consideration.
As we’ve explained, this is a stealth benefit cut that gets deeper the longer you live – so it especially hurts women.
You can share our infographics to help inform your friends and family about what these cuts would mean. And you can help show policy makers why they must protect Social Security – not cut it – by adding your story to our storybank about how Social Security has made a difference for you and your family.