Commentary - No such thing as a 'small' cut to Social Security benefitsLet’s get one thing clear: No one is getting rich off of Social Security. In fact, more and more people on Social Security are barely making ends meet.
By Michele Kimball, director, AARP Minnesota, St. Paul, MN
Let’s get one thing clear: No one is getting rich off of Social Security. In fact, more and more people on Social Security are barely making ends meet.
About 900,000 Minnesotans are enrolled in Social Security and for one out of five, their monthly check makes up more than 90 percent of their income. That means for around 200,000 Minnesotans, the $14,000 they get from Social Security each year is the only thing keeping them out of poverty.
At a time when seniors are living longer, facing more financial challenges than ever before and dealing with higher health care, food and energy costs, Social Security is more important than ever. Too many seniors are finding that their monthly earnings simply won’t stretch far enough.
That is why we have to be well informed and stay on top of proposed changes to the Social Security benefits that we all have worked and paid for throughout our lives.
Right now in Washington, a plan is circulating that would reduce Social Security benefits for current enrollee, including those 200,000 Minnesotans with no other source of income. The plan is called “Chained CPI” and is being billed as a “slight reduction” to the cost of living adjustment.
The Chained CPI would cut Social Security benefits for current seniors by $112 billion over the next 10 years. The size of this harmful cut would get larger every year, costing the average senior thousands of dollars over their lifetime.
To put the cut in context, the average Social Security recipient who starts collecting at age 65 would see their benefits cut by more than $600 over the next five years. Over 10 years, the cut would grow to more than $2,000.
In the face of ever-increasing prices for health care, home heating, gasoline and grocery bills, asking seniors to give up more and more of their Social Security benefit is just plain wrong.
The Chained CPI won’t only impact those on Social Security. It will also impact the nearly 400,000 Minnesotans currently collecting veteran benefits. For many of them, the new CPI would result in a double whammy that would cut both incomes that they have earned and rely on.
It wasn’t long ago that we heard politicians promising to never cut Social Security for today’s seniors. In fact, President Obama himself said in 2012 that “no current beneficiaries should see their benefits reduced.”
The time has come for the politicians to keep their promise. Enacting the Chained CPI is a benefit cut to current enrollees. There are more than 1 million people in the state of Minnesota who would see their incomes reduced from this change. That is one out of every five people in our state; many of whom are barely making ends meet already.
Please join AARP in contacting your senator and congressman and ask them to keep their promise to those who have already given enough for their earned benefits. Visit www.earnedasay.org to find out more.