BURLINGTON, Vt., Oct. 22 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said he is “disappointed” by today’s announcement of only a 1.7 percent increase in the cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security beneficiaries and disabled veterans.
“At a time when the prices of prescription drugs and electricity are skyrocketing, I am disappointed that seniors and disabled veterans will only be getting a 1.7 percent increase next year,” said Sanders. “This is the third year in a row that the cost-of-living adjustment will be less than 2 percent.”
The cost-of-living adjustment is one of the smallest increases since the automatic annual adjustments were adopted in 1975. (There was no increase in benefits in 2010 or 2011.)
“As bad as that is, it could be a lot worse. Many Republicans believe that these cost-of-living adjustments are too generous. They want to significantly cut Social Security by enacting a so-called chained CPI,” said Sanders. “That would be a disaster not only for the 58 million Americans who rely on Social Security, but for nearly 4 million disabled veterans. Instead of cutting Social Security, we need to expand it by creating an elderly CPI that accurately measures the spending patterns of seniors.”
Under the chained CPI, the average senior who retires at age 65 would see their Social Security benefits cut by about $658 a year when they reach 75 and by about $1,100 a year once they turn 85. At the beginning of 2014, the average Social Security benefit for a retired worker was $1,294 a month.
The chained CPI would also substantially cut the VA benefits of nearly 4 million veterans. The largest cuts would impact young, permanently disabled veterans who were seriously wounded in combat. It would also impact more than 350,000 survivors who receive service-connected death benefits. 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.
Sanders is chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, the founder of the Senate’s Defend Social Security Caucus and has worked with virtually all major veterans organizations to oppose the chained CPI.