Whitehouse Statement on Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment

Washington, DC – The Social Security Administration announced 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outdated formula has resulted in zero or next to zero cost of living adjustment for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.