Release: Sanders Calls for Emergency Social Security Fix

BURLINGTON, Vt., Aug. 24 -- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said today he will introduce emergency legislation to stop Social Security payments from shrinking for millions of senior citizens.

Social Security trustees are projecting that there will be no cost-of-living adjustment for the next two years. As a practical matter, that would mean that monthly payments would drop for millions of retirees because Medicare prescription drug premiums, which are deducted from Social Security payments, are scheduled to go up.  In addition, poverty among seniors is growing, as is the number of older Americans going bankrupt.

“Faced with these realities it would simply be unacceptable for seniors on fixed incomes to not receive additional income in the coming year, something that hasn't happened in over three decades,” Sanders said.  “As soon as Congress gets back in session, I will be introducing emergency legislation that will provide seniors with financial support during this coming year.” 

Social Security cost-of-living adjustments are pegged to overall inflation, which for many goods and services during the recession has been flat or has fallen. Seniors, however, face higher prices because they spend more on health care expenses, which are rising much faster than inflation overall. Many seniors also are more vulnerable to declining home values.

“As a result of the worst economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression, millions of senior Americans have seen their life savings plummet and find themselves in difficult financial straits. In addition, the cost of health care and prescription drugs, especially relevant to seniors, continues to go up,” Sanders said.

About 50 million retired and disabled Americans receive Social Security benefits. The average monthly benefit for retirees is $1,153 this year. The Social Security Administration in October will officially announce that there will not be an increase in benefits next year.

“I think a lot of seniors do not know what's coming down the pike, and I believe that when they hear that, they're going to be upset,'' Sanders told The Associated Press. “Seniors are going to need help this year, and it would not be acceptable for Congress to simply turn its back.”