NEW: RI Seniors Getting Increase in Benefits
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse today applauded an announcement by the Social Security Administration that seniors will receive an increase in their benefits next year for the first time since 2009. Rhode Island seniors and disabled people receiving Social Security benefits will see a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) of 3.6 percent in their monthly checks starting in January.
“This is welcome news for Rhode Island seniors struggling to stay afloat in this tough economy,” said Whitehouse. “I’ve heard from countless seniors in every part of the state who have been frustrated to see their income lag behind as costs for gas, groceries, and prescriptions have risen. This increase will provide some relief and help seniors keep up with those rising costs.”
Whitehouse has been a staunch advocate for boosting Social Security payments throughout his time in the Senate. In 2008, he fought successfully for a $300 rebate for seniors and SSDI recipients in that year’s Economic Stimulus Act; in 2009, he helped ensure that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included a one-time $250 payment to seniors; and in 2010 he cosponsored the Emergency Senior Citizens Relief Act to help offset the lack of a COLA that year.
COLA’s are dictated by a specific formula tied to inflation, which Whitehouse has argued is flawed because it places too much emphasis on the cost of products that seniors are less likely to purchase – like computers and advanced electronics – and not enough emphasis on their real daily costs of living.
More than 200,000 Rhode Islanders currently receive Social Security benefits, which paid an average of just $1,088 per month in 2010. Those Rhode Islanders can expect an average annual increase of $470 next year.
Whitehouse has also been fighting hard to defend Social Security from harmful cuts this year. In July he introduced a Senate resolution arguing that any agreement to reduce the budget deficit should not include cuts to Social Security or Medicare benefits. He also led a letter in September to members of the deficit reduction “supercommittee” urging them to protect Social Security, Medicare benefits, and the Medicaid program. Also in September, Whitehouse cosponsored legislation to ensure the long term solvency of Social Security for future generations.
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