Senators, Veterans, Seniors, Labor Unite in Opposition to Benefit Cuts for Seniors, Veterans

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was joined today by a growing coalition of seniors, veterans and labor organizations against changing the consumer price index to cut Social Security and disabled veterans’ benefits.

Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) also took part in the Capitol news conference. They were flanked by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka; AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond; Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America policy chief Tom Tarantino; National Organization for Women President Terry O’Neill and The Arc of the United States CEO Peter Berns.

“We are here today to tell the White House and the leadership in Congress: do not balance the budget on the backs of the elderly. Do not balance the budget on the backs of disabled veterans who have lost their arms, legs, and eyesight defending our country. Do not balance the budget on the backs of working families. Do not adopt the so-called chained-CPI,” Sanders said.

“My Republican friends and some Democrats have said that lowering cost-of-living adjustments through the adoption of a chained-CPI would be a ‘minor tweak’ in benefits. But let’s be clear: for millions of Americans the chained CPI is not a minor tweak.  It is a significant benefit cut that will make it harder for the elderly, permanently disabled veterans, and working families to feed their families, heat their homes, pay for their prescription drugs, and make ends meet,” added Sanders, chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and founder of the Defending Social Security Caucus. 

More than 55 million retirees, widows, orphans and disabled Americans on Social Security could be affected by the switch to a so-called chained CPI. According to the Social Security Administration, the change would result in $112 billion in reduced Social Security benefits over 10 years. The typical Social Security recipient who retires at age 65 would get $653 less a year at age 75 and would get $1,139 less a year at age 85 than under current law.

The proposed change in how annual cost-of-living adjustments are calculated also would mean that 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, according to the Congressional Budget Office.