The Honorable Bob Casey, Jr.
393 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Casey,

On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, I am writing to endorse your legislation, S. 3974, entitled the “Boosting Benefits and COLAs for Seniors Act.” Members of the National Committee come from all walks of life and every political persuasion. What unites them is their passion for protecting and strengthening Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the other programs that are so vitally important to older Americans.

One of the Social Security program’s critical features is that it provides automatic annual adjustments to help beneficiaries keep up with inflation. The current formula for calculating Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs), is based upon the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), which is a measurement by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the changes in the prices paid for a market basket of goods and services purchased by urban wage earners and clerical workers.

COLAs are all about protecting Social Security benefits from being eroded by inflation. But, sadly, the current CPI-W has fallen far short of providing needed inflation protection because it fails to adequately measure the spending patterns of seniors. Seniors typically spend more on out-of-pocket health care costs than other Americans, and in most years, the cost of health care rises more quickly than general inflation. The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare has long advocated for the adoption of an alternative measurement, the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly, or CPI-E, for the purpose of determining COLAs because it is the most accurate measure of the real effect of inflation on the goods and services that are purchased by America’s seniors.

The Boosting Benefits and COLAs for Seniors Act represents the best of both worlds. Your bill would direct the Social Security Administration to adjust benefits based on CPI-E rather than CPI-W, if CPI-E would result in a larger increase in benefits, ensuring that seniors get a large enough increase in benefits to contend with the rise in costs they are facing.

We believe adoption of your bill would go a long way toward protecting those on fixed incomes from the ravages of inflation, and the National Committee thanks you for your tireless efforts on behalf of America’s seniors. We look forward to working with you to enact this important legislation.

Max Richtman
President and CEO