Thursday, February 03, 2011

Seniors Living on Less in 2011

Many seniors are living on less in 2011. From PRNewswire:

Forty-four percent of seniors are receiving lower Social Security checks this year compared to 2010, while even more are dealing with significantly higher expenses. The findings come from an annual survey of elderly Americans, released earlier today by The Senior Citizens League (TSCL), one of the nation's largest nonpartisan senior citizens advocacy groups.


Social Security checks are lower because many seniors have their Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage premiums automatically deducted, and these premiums have increased in many cases. An annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) typically offsets such premium increases, but seniors are not receiving a COLA for the second year in a row.

Combine the increase in Part D premiums with falling into the donut hole, when a senior has to pay full price for prescription drugs, and you have people that are barely making ends meet, or doing without needed medications because they can't afford them.

The fact that expenses are increasing, while Social Security checks are decreasing isn't being reported on. Social Security is still being dishonestly presented as a reason for the expanding federal deficit. Thankfully, Social Security has a strong, persistent ally in Senator Bernie Sanders:

Even with no change, the fact is that Social Security has a $2.6 trillion surplus that is projected to grow to more than $4 trillion in 2023. Is this surplus, as some have suggested, just worthless IOUs? Absolutely not! Social Security invests, as it should, the surplus money it accumulates into U.S Treasury bonds, the safest interest-bearing securities in the world. These are the same bonds that wealthy investors, China, and other foreign countries have purchased. The bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government which, in our long history, has never once defaulted on its debt obligations. In other words, Social Security bonds are as safe as any other U.S. debt obligation.

Further, despite the manufactured hysteria about a “Social Security crisis,” Social Security has not contributed one penny to the very serious deficit situation we face. Social Security is fully funded by the payroll tax that workers and their employers contribute into the system, not the U.S. Treasury. Our deficit has, in recent years, been largely caused by the cost of two wars, tax breaks for the rich, a Medicare prescription drug program written by the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, and the Wall Street bailout — all unpaid for. Social Security has played no role in our deficits.

This is a great (short!) op-ed piece by Senator Sanders. Pass it on to the doubters and naysayers you come in contact with. Social Security must be protected, and strengthened, for our current seniors and the generations to come.

cross posted at MainSt/

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