Social Security’s 2016 COLA Is Zero. Senator Warren Has a Plan to Fix That.

Nancy Altman, President of Social Security Works

Ask any person with disabilities or any retiree you know whether the cost of his or her medical care, prescription drugs, food and housing have increased in the last year. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who would answer that those expenses haven’t gone up. Yet they will receive no Social Security cost of living adjustment (“COLA”) in January to offset those increased costs because the mechanism for measuring the inflation they experience is inadequate. It was created to measure the cost of living of workers, not seniors and people with disabilities, who have very different costs and spending patterns.

The lack of an adequate adjustment is no small matter. The COLA is intended to ensure that Social Security’s modest benefits do not lose value over time. Its purpose is to keep seniors and other beneficiaries afloat, to allow them to tread water. But instead they are sinking.

Fortunately, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and eighteen of her colleaguesrecognize the problem and have introduced stopgap legislation to address the lack of an adjustment in 2016, thereby providing time for Congress to enact a permanent solution. Her proposal appropriately requires that the nation’s wealthiest among us start paying a bit more — though still much less than their fair share.

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