House lawmakers are proposing emergency legislation to increase the 2021 Social Security cost-of-living adjustment to 3%. The move comes just days after the Social
Security Administration announced that the COLA for 2021 would be 1.3%. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, seniors are facing additional financial burdens in order to
stay safe,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., in a statement on Thursday. “This absolutely anemic COLA won’t even come close to helping them afford even
their everyday expenses, let alone those exacerbated by COVID-19.”
Nancy Altman, president of the advocacy group Social Security Works, said “Social Security’s automatic cost of living adjustment is one of its most
valuable features, even more so in the middle of a pandemic. But due to an inadequate measure, Social Security’s modest benefits are eroding. “To offset that
erosion, Representatives DeFazio and Larson are wisely proposing an ad hoc 3% increase. Social Security Works applauds their leadership and enthusiastically endorses
their proposal. Congress should immediately pass their legislation, which will boost the economy and save lives,” she explained in a statement.
The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, known as CPI-W, as determined by
the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. There were no increases in 2010, 2011 or 2016. The CPI-W, to which COLAs are tied, reflects prices paid by
working adults under age 62 and gives greater weight to items like gas and electronics. At the same time, this measure gives less weight to housing and medical expenses,
which are the biggest areas of spending for older consumers, the Senior Citizens League says.
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