Social Security Administration Announced 1.3 percent COLA Increase

October 15, 2020

Thank You from Congressman Chris Smith

Dear Freeholder Director Vicari,

Thank you for your extraordinary commitment and leadership on behave of older Americans. You have made a significant difference in the lives of all the people of Ocean County including and especially senior citizens.

Like you, I am outraged that the Social Security Administration has announced a mere 1.3 percent Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) increase for our seniors, most of whom live on a fixed-income budget and many whose only income is their Social Security check.

As you know the COLA adjustment is predicated on the increase in the CPI from the third quarter of 2019 through the third quarter of 2020. And that is the underlying problem.

To address this issue, later this week I will be introducing legislation that will require the SSA to determine the annual COLA on the costs of items that seniors purchase. My bill will change the formula so that it gives appropriate weight to the types of expenses which recipients of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) seniors endure—especially and including rising medical and pharmaceutical expense.

My legislation will also provide an immediate, 2-year emergency 3% COLA during the national COVID-19 emergency. The added medical expenses and other costs associated with the pandemic and the economic shutdown has placed an enormous burden or our seniors that simply cannot be ignored.
The stark reality is that the standard, traditional CPI—which excludes some costs such as medical expenses does not meet the needs of today's seniors. Since Social Security was created in 1935, medicine has advanced significantly, a good upside for our seniors who now live longer—and healthier-lives. But that comes with a downside: higher costs. We must ensure that the benefits paid are an up-to-date reflection of our seniors daily needs. My bill addresses this outdated inequity and will ensure a new and more accurate measurement of their cost-of-living.

Throughout my career I have approached Social Security as a sacred trust, a contract we made with those who have contributed to the greatness of our nation. We must honor this trust by strengthening the program and ensuring that the benefits—Social Security recipients have earned and contributed to meet the needs of those who rely on them for their livelihood.

Thank you again, Freeholder Director, for your leadership and tireless advocacy for services and fairness for our senior citizens.

Sincerely,
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH Member of Congress

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