Senators Look to Boost Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustment, Increase Benefits for Seniors

WASHINGTON, D.C. — From housing and medicine to gas and groceries, many Americans are struggling with day-to-day expenses. It can be especially difficult for seniors living on a fixed income. 

For seniors, Social Security plays a vital role in everyday living. 

“It can often be an older adult’s largest source of income, accounting for 50% of it in four-in-ten retirees,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D- NY). 

But even with social security income, Gillibrand says many seniors can’t afford basic necessities. 

“And far too often, we have older adults facing homelessness, food insecurity, or financial ruin,” said Gillibrand. 

Today, the New York Democrat announced legislation to assist seniors with rising prices. Specifically, Gillibrand is looking to boost Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) and Social Security benefits for seniors by changing the current formula.

The Social Security COLA is currently calculated using the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).  

Although Social Security benefits are adjusted for inflation each year, Gillibrand says recent adjustments do not adequately reflect the rising cost of health care for older Americans. That’s why she is proposing the “Boosting Benefits and COLAs for Seniors Act.” 

The legislation would calculate COLAs using a modified consumer price index for seniors, known as the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E), instead. 

“We can’t afford to force Americans to choose between their housing, financial stability or health care,” said Gillibrand. 

Today, the Senate Special Committee on Aging also discussed Social Security and the importance of preserving it. 

“Social Security is the most successful antipoverty program to date, allowing tens of millions of Americans, including older adults, people with disabilities, and children to live with dignity. Despite this, we have heard outlandish proposals from some that Congress should consider cutting Social Security,” said Sen. Bob Casey (D- PA), Chairman of the Special Committee on Aging. “Let me be clear—I will never support cuts to Social Security. Social Security is a lifeline for Americans of all walks of life—we have made a promise to deliver benefits to Americans, and I will not go back on that promise,” added Casey, who is also a cosponsor of the Boosting Benefits and COLAs for Seniors Act. 

“It’s not going bankrupt. At worst, if Congress were unable to act as you had in 1982, there would be a big depletion of that. But it’s not going bankrupt. As long as Americans work, it will not go bankrupt,” said Social Security Administration (SSA) Commissioner Martin O’Malley as he spoke about the future of the program. 

O’Malley also highlighted the importance of funding from the President’s proposed budget to improve customer service and efficiency within the SSA.