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Retirement Planning > Social Security

More COLA on seniors' diet in 2012?

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Rumors are swirling around Capitol Hill that seniors may receive a Social Security cost of living adjustment (COLA) hike in 2012. Based on the last three months’ numbers the adjustment could be anywhere from 2.2 percent to 3.5 percent and that would be a boost to seniors who have suffered the past two years without a COLA increase.

The September data will have the final say on how large a bump will be doled out but those figures will not be released until October 19. Until then, it’s a guessing game that has been giving seniors fits. 

When we wrote about COLA remaining stagnant earlier this year, with the government giving the excuse that inflation hasn’t risen fast enough to warrant it, the retired community responded in droves, with their anger directed at our government and its elected officials: 

“The senators should have to live on social security and have to pay for their own medical insurance just like we do,” wrote Waymon Westcott. “We pay them to run the country and they fight among themselves all year long.” 

“You work all your life and the supposed greatest country in the world treats their seniors like dirt,” added Brenda Simmons. “When is someone going to take up for us and treat us right?” 

And that’s not just the elderly being crotchety, seniors really do rely on Social Security as income and the data backs it up. According to Virginia Reno of the National Academy of Social Insurance, the majority of seniors receive more than half of their income from Social Security so it’s imperative they get a COLA boost just to keep up with inflation. 

But not all the news surrounding COLA is good. As we wrote in August, a proposal in Congress would switch the COLA formula to a new one that would save the government $208 billion over 10 years, with $112 billion of that coming from cutting Social Security benefits. In terms of bad press, it might be the worst COLA PR move since New Coke. 

In talking about COLA, perhaps senior William L. Golub said it best when summing up how the seniors have been treated: “Hey, if you are going to lie and steal from us then just tell us that is what’s up. Don’t pull this phony boloney that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) hasn’t risen enough. That’s pure unadulterated horse manure!”


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