"Raising the retirement age would inflict further hardship among a group of workers who are likely to face health and economic problems in their 60s." –Doug Hart, President, Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans
"Of all the lies and confusion that still surround the Affordable Care Act, perhaps the greatest is that it is bad for seniors." - Dave Meinell, President, Missouri Alliance for Retired Americans
"My father died when I was three. Because of Social Security (survivors) benefits, my Mom, my younger sister and I survived." – Diane Fleming, DC Alliance Member
"We fear that Congress will balance the budget on the backs of the 98 percent, which is working Montanans and retired Montanans. We simply cannot afford these devastating cuts to vital services such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid," –John Forkan, President, Montana Alliance for Retired Americans
"Along with national parks and Social Security, Medicare is one of the best ideas we Americans have ever devised." -Tim Cunningham, New Mexico Alliance Member
"Seniors have earned and deserve their Social Security checks, and they shouldn't have to go to Congress every 10 years and beg for the program to be renewed." –James Parent, Alliance for Retired Americans Regional Board Member
"Today's retirees paid Medicare and Social Security taxes in every paycheck we ever earned. Now that we are retired, these programs help us to be able to stay healthy and pay our bills. They are the promise we make to people who worked hard all their lives, and we need to keep that promise for today’s workers." –Tony Fransetta, President, Florida Alliance for Retired Americans
"Today's seniors want to lower the budget deficit. We do not want a large debt to be the legacy we leave to future generations, but we should not punish people who have paid Social Security taxes all their lives." –Jim Moore, President, North Carolina Alliance for Retired Americans
"Social Security should remain what it has been for 77 years – a solid, reliable way that generations of workers have been able to retire with dignity, economic security, and peace of mind." –Barbara J. Easterling, President, Alliance for Retired Americans
"The fight for Social Security and Medicare is part of a larger fight for justice and fairness"—Barbara J. Easterling, President, Alliance for Retired Americans
"The health insurance reform helps not just seniors, but also middle-class families and young Americans, who are just starting to see the benefits. Don’t let Republicans take all that away." –Don Rowen, President Emeritus, Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans
"Honoring the promise of Social Security and Medicare should not be a partisan issue. Honoring the contributions that we make throughout our working years so that we may feed and clothe ourselves, keep a roof over our heads and those of our family, there is no reason for that to be a hotly contested partisan issue." –Edward Coyle, former Executive Director, Alliance for Retired Americans
"We need to make sure that people who need Social Security to make ends meet will have it, and not fall victim to ill-informed and unnecessary cuts to these vital programs."
–Barbara J. Easterling, President, Alliance for Retired Americans
President Obama May Include Cuts to Social Security COLA in Budget Proposal
April 05, 2013
Press reports indicate that President Obama will include cuts to Social Security cost of living adjustments (COLAs) and Medicare in his budget proposal next Wednesday http://nyti.ms/14T0YSY. The President will reportedly propose the use of the chained CPI to calculate cost of living adjustments (COLAs) if it is linked to taxes on the wealthy and infrastructure investments. In Medicare, savings would reportedly come from payments to health care providers, such as hospitals and drug companies, but the President may also propose further means-testing benefits.
The Social Security COLA cuts via the chained CPI is troubling because it is an immediate benefit cut to Social Security beneficiaries. Please send the White House a message – tell the President to protect Social Security and to safeguard benefits using this easy link http://bit.ly/12kHExe.
The chained CPI is a back door way of attempting to balance the budget on the backs of America’s seniors. The chained CPI would hit today’s Social Security beneficiaries and is a continuous cut to the benefits Americans have earned each year into the future. “Not only does the current cost of living allowance not keep up with inflation for seniors, it does not accurately account for the large health care cost increases faced by seniors and people with disabilities. The chained CPI would further underestimate the cost of living adjustments for seniors,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. More realistically, we need a more accurate and higher COLA, one that reflects the cost of living for Social Security beneficiaries. Robert Reich put out a video this week that clearly explains the chained CPI – watch it here http://huff.to/17fHYxa.
The chained CPI calculation assumes that a lower COLA is accurate because consumers can substitute cheaper products when prices go up but that does not hold true for many of seniors’ expenses. Seniors cannot substitute a triple bypass surgery with a double because it is cheaper, for example, and there are no easy substitutions for a hip replacement. According to Social Security Works, an average earner retiring in 2011 at the age of 65 would experience a benefit cut of over $6,000 over 15 years if the chained CPI were adopted. “Social Security benefits are already quite modest for most recipients. The median income of Americans over 65 is less than $20,000 a year and for 70 percent of them, Social Security makes up the majority of their livelihoods. It’s very troubling that our President would propose cuts to this critical lifeline,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance for Retired Americans.
It is doubtful that the chained CPI proposed in the President’s budget will become law through the federal budget process, because the House and Senate have already passed very different budget resolutions with little chance of a House-Senate conference to reconcile the differences. However, we must remain very vigilant that the chained CPI could end up in discussions in the so-called “Grand Bargain” on the deficit this spring and summer.
Patriot Coal Meets Masses in Charleston, WV
More than 6,000 people joined elected officials and labor leaders Monday in a march on Patriot Coal headquarters in Charleston, WV to protest the company's move to use bankruptcy to cut pension and health care benefits for more than 20,000 workers and retirees. Patriot Coal was spun off from St. Louis-based Peabody Energy in 2007, with approximately 43 percent of Peabody’s pension and health care liabilities, but just 11 percent of its assets. Patriot also later assumed pension and health care obligations for retired union miners who had worked for Arch Coal, which had previously shed its liabilities in a similar way as Peabody.
Shirley Inman, a retired miner whose health care benefits are threatened by Patriot’s actions in U.S. bankruptcy court, said, “I never worked a day for Patriot Coal … I don’t care what the corporate name is, those executives made us a promise: We’d mine their coal, and in exchange we’d have good health care while we worked and after we retired. I kept my promise; they should keep theirs.” Ron Thompson, President of the Virginia Alliance for Retired Americans, at the march with several Virginia retirees, said “We were showing solidarity on their behalf. We were also standing up for them because the next group could be us.”
Sixteen people were arrested at the protest. The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) is challenging Patriot’s action in court, has launched a public education advertising campaign about Peabody, Patriot and Arch Coal, working with Sens. Jay Rockefeller, Joe Manchin and Rep. Nick Rahall to develop and introduce federal legislation to assist retired miners. Click here to support the workers and retirees by signing the petition, participating in events or liking their campaign on Facebook http://bit.ly/12pxUhw.
“Turning Age and Experience Into Opportunity” – Jobs for Seniors Filled by Seniors
About 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 every day, according to the Pew Research Center. The needs of our aging population are creating millions of jobs to serve and assist seniors, many of which are being filled by seniors. According to NBC News (http://nbcnews.to/12pvwY0), men and women in their fifties, sixties and seventies are filling positions or creating new opportunities to serve our aging population by working in roles such as patient advocates, specialized gym instructors for senior classes, home modification professionals and errand-runners.
Whether directly serving the senior population or not, older workers are pursuing second and third careers. According to the Kauffman Foundation, 1 in 5 new entrepreneurs in 2011 were aged 55-64 and almost half of all new entrepreneurs were between the ages of 45 and 64.
The Iowa Alliance went on the road last week to celebrate and tout the state Senate-approved expansion of Medicaid coverage for over 100,000 Iowans, over objections of Gov. Terry Branstad and some of his GOP allies in the divided Legislature. Iowa’s governor is one of many across the country to reject offering Medicaid services provided for by the federal Affordable Care Act for adults between the ages of 19 and 64 with income up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Approximately seventy percent of all seniors in nursing homes rely on Medicaid to support themselves. Medicaid expansion supporters will continue statewide rallies and the “Medicaid Madness” tour this weekend, especially on Sunday, to encourage a community show of support for a program that affects so many families.