Friday letters: Chained CPI will hurt seniors, others

February 7, 2014 

A flawed policy initiative called the chained CPI (or Consumer Price Index) is gaining steam in Washington budget talks that would shortchange South Carolinians who receive federal benefits such as Social Security and federal annuities, by low balling their annual cost-of-living adjustments. Chained CPI supporters have tried to minimize the consequences it will have on seniors, retired federal employees and veterans by calling it a “technical adjustment” or “better measure of inflation.”

The only way thing about this that is an “adjustment” is the fact that it means smaller cost-of-living adjustments each year. It hurts every American — particularly our most vulnerable — in a major way that worsens over time.

Over 25 years, people who receive the average $15,000 annual Social Security benefits would be robbed of more than $23,000 by using the chained CPI. Just think of how many coupons those seniors would have to clip to make up for the loss over their retired years. The impact is even greater for many federal annuitants who don’t receive Social Security: Over 25 years, the average federal retiree would see a loss of $48,000.

I urge South Carolina’s lawmakers to reject the chained CPI and provide America’s seniors, retired veterans and public servants, and individuals with disabilities the income protection they have earned and deserve.

Kathryn Hensley


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