(SPRINGFIELD) Congressman Richard E. Neal, a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, today expressed his frustration that millions of our nation’s Social Security recipients will not receive a cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) in 2011. A formal announcement is expected to be made by the Social Security Administration (SSA) tomorrow. As a result, Congressman Neal has co-sponsored H.R. 5987, the Seniors Protection Act of 2010, which would award 58 million American seniors, veterans and disabled individuals with a $250 payment in the event that no COLA is awarded in 2011. He is urging House leaders to hold a vote when Congress reconvenes in November.
This unprecedented situation is the result of economic conditions and the Consumer Price Index (CPI) formula. By law, Social Security benefits keep pace with price levels. The COLA is automatically calculated using data on inflation published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). A spike in energy costs in 2008 and the subsequent lack of sufficient economic growth in 2009 and 2010 resulted in no significant net increase in inflation. The BLS is required to release the final economic statistics that the Social Security Administration uses to calculate the need for a COLA on October 15. The annual announcement cannot be delayed or postponed.
“I visit senior citizens from Northampton to Northbridge weekly, and know how important an annual COLA is to their quality of life. Many of these seniors depend on Social Security as their primary source of income. They keep seeing their expenses rise, from energy prices to medical costs, despite what the national inflation statistics suggest. Too many are struggling just to get by. That is why I was disappointed to learn 58 million Americans will not receive a COLA in 2011. This is simply not fair to our local seniors. If a COLA is not approved, I will seek a $250 payment next year to help our Social Security recipients make ends meet,” said Congressman Richard E. Neal.
Born in Worcester and raised in Springfield, Congressman Neal was raised on Social Security Survivor Benefits after his parents died. He is recognized nationally as a leader in the effort to preserve and protect Social Security and Medicare. The House Ways and Means Committee has jurisdiction over all Social Security and Medicare issues.