Senate Sends Clear Message: Don’t Cut Social Security, Veterans’ Benefits

BURLNIGTON, Vt., March 25 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said today that a Senate vote showed overwhelming opposition to President Barack Obama’s proposal to cut benefits for Social Security recipients and disabled veterans.

The Senate early Saturday passed a budget resolution that included Sanders’ amendment against switching to a so-called chained consumer price index which would cut cost-of-living adjustments by changing how inflation is measured.

“This is a strong signal that when push comes to shove the Senate is going to oppose any effort to balance the budget on the backs of seniors, disabled veterans and their survivors,” Sanders said after the vote.

By adopting the amendment, the Senate went on record against the change that would cut Social Security benefits for more than 55 million Americans as part of what the White House calls a “grand bargain” with Republicans in Congress.

Typical 65-year-old retirees would lose more than $650 a year by their 75th birthday and more than $1,000 a year would be cut from their benefits once they reach 85.

The proposed change also would affect more than 3.2 million disabled veterans receiving disability compensation benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans who started receiving VA disability benefits at age 30 would have their benefits reduced by $1,425 at age 45, $2,341 at age 55 and $3,231 at age 65.  Benefits for more than 350,000 surviving spouses and children also would be cut.

Groups supporting Sanders’ amendment included AARP, the AFL-CIO, National Organization for Women, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, AMVETS and others.

Sanders is chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and the founder of the Defending Social Security Caucus.