New Jersey’s Republican congressmen, Chris Smith (NJ-4) and Jeff Van Drew (NJ-2) today proposed legislation that would retroactively grant a cost of living (COLA) increase to senior citizens collecting social security for 2020 and further increase seniors’ income in 2021, according to an announcement from Smith office.
The Social Security Administration this week announced that a 1.3% COLA increase in 2021. Smith and Van Drew’s bill, HR 8600, the COVID-19 Emergency Social Security Cost of Living Increase Act would provide a 3% increase for 2020 and 2021 and change the index by which COLA increases are calculated.
Social Security COLAs are currently based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) which excludes items like taxes, such as state and federal income taxes, and does not accommodate the disproportionate impact of health costs on seniors. The bill would permanently address those shortcomings by creating a new “Senior CPI.”
“COVID-19 has not only disproportionately harmed senior citizens—causing death to many especially in nursing homes—but has devastated them economically as well,” said Smith.
“HR 8600, the COVID-19 Emergency Social Security Cost of Living Increase Act, is aimed at helping seniors and other Social Security recipients keep up with rising costs they experience in their daily lives, especially in health care,” Smith said. “The COLA announced this week does not reflect the costs seniors cope with every day. It is unfair, and the COVID-19 Emergency Social Security Cost of Living Increase Act will help remedy that unfairness.”
Van Drew said, “The burden on South Jersey seniors from taxes, tolls and Coronavirus has been enormous. Social Security recipients need more assistance to ensure the promise made to them is kept; this legislation is a key part of that commitment and we will fight as hard we can to ensure it is enacted.
Ocean County Freeholder Director Joe Vicari praised the legislation and said that the COLA increases are needed for seniors necessities like food, shelter, utilities and medications.
“I am extremely thankful for the immediate response received from Congressman Smith as we struggle with ways to have the annual Cost of Living Adjustment for Social Security actually reflect the current state of the economy where prices are going up and financial help is not,” said Vicari, who serves as Chairman to the Office of Senior Services. “In Ocean County, where almost 200,000 senior citizens live, it’s unconscionable to just except an increase of 1.3 percent in the 2021 Social Security benefits,” he said. “Social Security is not a hand-out. Our seniors have paid into this their entire working lives.