Dear Editor:

Cutting Social Security benefits for millions of Americans by adopting a stingier cost of living formula is anything but the “quick administrative tweak” which inflicts “minimal” pain as claimed by the Washington Post’s editorial board (A Better Stat for Inflation, November 25). 

The chained CPI would cut benefits for millions of seniors, veterans, federal retirees, and people with disabilities. Cutting the cost of living allowance by 3% for workers retired for ten years and 6% for workers retired for twenty years translates to a benefit cut of $130 per year in Social Security benefits for a typical 65 year-old. By the time that senior reaches 95, the annual benefit cut will be almost $1,400. That may seem like no big deal to the Washington Post and corporate CEO’s who want middle-class Americans to pay down the debt but those dollars mean a lot to seniors living on fixed incomes which average $14,000 per year. That’s why the vast majority of Americans and more than 50 of the nation’s leading military, seniors, disability, and federal employees’ organizations oppose adoption of the chained CPI.

If accuracy, rather than cutting benefits, is truly the goal there is a formula that would more accurately measure expenses retirees incur. The CPI-E was developed in 1987 to reflect the different spending patterns of consumers age 62 and older. This formula acknowledges health costs have been rising much faster than other expenses, and that those costs represent a much larger percentage of seniors’ monthly spending than other demographic groups. The CPI-E is a more accurate measure of the real-world expenses retirees face than the current COLA formula and far more accurate than the proposed Chained CPI, which is little more than a benefit cutting tool.


Max Richtman

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare
10 G Street, NE
Suite 600
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 216-8383