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Senate Resolution Urges No Social Security, Veterans Benefits Cuts

April 24, 2013

Senate Resolution Urges No Social Security, Veterans Benefits Cuts

Resolution expresses sense of Congress that Chained CPI should not calculate benefits for Social Security, Disabled Veterans


WASHINGTON, D.C. – A resolution introduced in the U.S. Senate today expresses the sense that Congress should not use the Chained Consumer Price Index to calculate cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security or benefits to disabled veterans or their families.  The resolution was introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) with the support of Senators Mark Begich (D-AK), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Al Franken (D-MN),  Kirsten Gilibrand (D-NY), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D - OR), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D - HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
“There is nothing more unfair or inappropriate than cutting benefits for seniors and veterans who have become disabled as a result of their service to our country,” said Harkin.  “Adequate annual Cost of Living Adjustments are critical for the millions of Americans who rely on these benefits to make ends meet.  The truth is that the way we currently calculate COLAs is already inadequate to keep up with rising medical costs.  The Chained CPI would take us even further in the wrong direction by directly cutting benefits for millions of Americans.  This resolution expresses our steadfast opposition to doing so.”   
Among the highlights of the Concurrent Resolution:
  • The Social Security program has no borrowing authority, has accumulated assets of $2,700,000,000,000, and, therefore, does not contribute to the Federal budget deficit;
  • The Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund projects that the Trust Fund can pay full benefits through 2032;
  • The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that using the Chained CPI to calculate Social Security COLAs would reduce Social Security benefits by 0.25 percent per year, resulting in a reduction in outlays of $127,000,000,000 over the first decade;
  • Reductions in Social Security benefits from using the Chained CPI to calculate Social Security COLAs would continue to compound over time, and the AARP Public Policy Institute estimates that the reductions would grow to 3 percent after 10 years and 8.5 percent after 30 years;
  • Social Security Works estimates that using the Chained CPI to calculate Social Security COLAs would reduce annual Social Security benefits of the average earner by $658 at age 75, $1,147 at age 85, and $1,622 at age 95;
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs provides more than 3,200,000 veterans with disability compensation benefits as a result of injuries or illnesses sustained during, or as a result of, military service;
  • Adopting the Chained CPI would also cut the benefits of more than 350,000 surviving spouses and children who have lost a loved one in battle by cutting Dependency Indemnity Compensation benefits that average less than $17,000 per year.

A full copy of the resolution can be found here.

National groups lending their support to this effort include: the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, the Alliance for Retired Americans, American Association of University Women, AARP, Campaign for Community Change, CREDO, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, MoveOn.org Civic Action, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, Social Security Works, the Strengthen Social Security Coalition, the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, United Steelworkers, VetsFirst, and Wider Opportunities for Women.