Washington, DC – The Social Security Administration announced today that monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits will rise by 0.3 percent in 2017. The small increase follows no cost of living adjustment (COLA) at all in 2016. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse responded to the announcement with the following statement:
“This is an insult to our seniors. For the fifth year in a row, Washington’s outdated formula has resulted in zero or next to zero cost of living adjustment for Social Security benefits. For the fifth year in a row, Rhode Island seniors will have to stretch their budgets to cover the rising cost of the basics, like food, housing, bills, and prescriptions. They didn’t bargain for this when they paid into Social Security over a lifetime of hard work. Congress needs to change the way we calculate Social Security COLAs.”
Whitehouse, a founding member of the Senate’s Defend Social Security Caucus, has long argued that the current COLA formula does not accurately represent the costs that seniors face. He has supported legislation to shift the formula used to determine COLAs to the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E), which would lead to higher benefits over time. He is an original cosponsor of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Seniors and Veterans Emergency (SAVE) Benefits Act, which would provide seniors and recipients of certain other beneficiaries– like veterans and disabled individuals – with a one-time payment of $581 per person to help make up for the low COLAs of recent years. He also helped to secure one-time payments of $300 in 2008 and $250 in 2009 for seniors and Social Security Disability Insurance recipients.