Letter: No Social Security COLA in 2016

To the Editor:

Seniors and elderly folk will be cutting back, buying less and eating less.

Seems that our warm, fuzzy and paternalistic government hasn’t noticed the price creep that is going on in the grocery stores. When the price of ground beef, the staple of the financially challenged family’s diet, reaches $5lb, you know that the cost of living has gone up.

Hey, even the Senators in Washington are looking for pay raises, and I don’t mean the baseball team! When I got my official notice in Thursday’s mail, I knew something was screwy and that I just had to look into it. Well, I did and here is what I found out.

Congress changed the law in 1983, effectively cutting COLA’s in half or more since then. For example, over the past ten years, COLA’s ranged from zero (2010, 2011, and 2016) to 5.8% in 2009, averaging a pitiful 1.99% over the past ten years. In fact, the increase of 5.8 in 2009 was the highest since 1984, a 25 year period.

In 1983, Congress, thinking you were getting too fat and rich off the COLA’s, and having other programs to fund to get votes, the COLA formula was drastically changed.

What changed is that monthly Social Security benefit increases, instead of keeping pace with inflation, increases are now “Based on either wages or prices (which ever is lower)” (). So the inflation score keepers in the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those same folks who play games with the monthly employment figures, used the two gauges, wages and prices, to pull a double cross on our benefits.

For the past twelve months (November to November), while the cost of foods and goods rose substantially (inflation), wages stayed more or less flat and since wages, being the lower of the two gauges, it resulted in there not being a Social Security cost of living increase for 2016. Normally, in good economic times wages will go up, dragging up the cost of foods and goods with them. Unfortunately, our economy has been in the sewer with unemployment consistently above 10% when everyone who wants to work is counted as being out of work.
Paul Littlefield