Mon. Jul 26th, 2021

Legislation that would recalibrate annual cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The “Fair COLA for Seniors Act of 2021” (H.R. 4315), introduced by Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), would require Social Security to use the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E) to calculate the cost of living adjustment (COLA) for seniors. According to a July 8 press release, the bill would increase benefits and ensure that cost of living adjustments in Social Security reflect the real rising costs for seniors and disabled Americans. From 1982 to 2011, CPI-E rose at an annual average rate of 3.1%, compared with 2.9% for the methods that are currently used.[1]

The legislation has 23 cosponsors: Democrat Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Marilyn Strickland (D-WA), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Brendan F. Boyle (D-PA), Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-MP), Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Anthony G. Brown (D-MD), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Ann M. Kuster (D-NH), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Ted W. Lieu (D-CA), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)—and one Republican, Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA).

“Seniors and disabled citizens rely on Social Security benefits for a large portion of their income, and it’s about time for Social Security benefits to reflect their lifestyles,” said Garamendi. “Using a COLA that actually reflects how retirees spend their money—especially in health care—is a no-brainer that will increase benefits and make Social Security work better for the people it serves.”

The text of the “Fair COLA for Seniors Act” (H.R. 4315) is online here.


[1] However, the Consumer Price Index for all items increased 5% for the 12-month period ending in May, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced June 10. This marks the largest 12-month increase since a 5.4% increase for the 12-month period ending in August 2008. The BLS further reports that the all-items index has been trending up every month since January, when the 12-month change was -1.4%.