NH Seniors: $500 Million-Plus Stake in “Fiscal Cliff” Debate
CONCORD, N.H – One of the proposals being tossed around in the fiscal cliff debate would tie cost of living adjustments for Social Security benefits to the Consumer Price Index.
Mike Olender, interim state director with AARP-New Hampshire, says the change sounds really minor, because the initial benefit cut is less than half a percent, but over the next decade, he says New Hampshire seniors would stand to lose $560 million.
"It compounds over time, and by the time somebody is approaching 90 years of age – essentially what it means is that they lose about a month's worth of Social Security out of that year."
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner has told fellow Republicans not to make plans for the Christmas holidays. If Congress doesn't act soon, some tax increases and program cuts will automatically happen.
Olender says its true people are living longer, but he says increasing the eligibility age for Medicare will have a ripple effect on health care costs in New Hampshire, especially for those who have to wait until they turn 67 for Medicare coverage.
"Here in the Granite State you're looking at their costs being about $2,200 more out of pocket to be able to afford insurance – not to mention premiums going up for everybody else as well."
Olender says right now one in five New Hampshire seniors are scrapping by on Social Security – often less than $15,000 a year.
"That Social Security check accounts for literally 90 percent or more of their total monthly income; these people do not have the choice that say younger people might have, say delivering pizzas at night or something like that. This is very much a make or break situation for them."
Olender says it's especially unfair to cut Social Security benefits when Americans have already paid into that program. And he notes that the program does not contribute to the deficit.