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Cuts Target Seniors, Veterans and People with a Disability

April 9, 2013

SHARPSBURG, N.C. - Reducing the deficit is a top priority in Washington, and one option being considered would cut benefits to people receiving Social Security, veterans', or disability benefits. It's part of a little-known and little-understood change to the way cost-of-living increases to benefits are calculated. The proposed method is called "chained CPI" (Consumer Price Index) and assumes that people receiving benefits can choose lower-cost items if prices rise.

According to Sharpsburg veteran Bill Burchette, however, that economic principle doesn't add up in real life.

"If the cost of steak goes up, then you can buy chicken or turkey. We're already on chicken and turkey, and some of us are not even eating that."

AARP estimates that switching to chained CPI would cost seniors and veterans a combined $146 billion over the next 10 years. Right now 62-year-olds receiving $900 a month in benefits would lose a total of $32,000 by the time they are 90.

Doug Dickerson, executive director of AARP North Carolina, insisted that switching to a chained CPI is nothing more than a tax increase.

"And the reason I'm saying in taxes is because that money, he or she has already contributed that through the original payroll tax and compounded interest," he stated.

Bill Burchette served 27 years in the Air Force reserves and said he's disappointed in this policy proposal.

"That's a slam against the people that served this country and served it well, served it at times when they didn't really believe in what some of our politicians were doing - but our nation called and said this is the right thing to do, and that's what we did."

According to an AARP survey, 73 percent of North Carolinians age 50 and over oppose changing the way the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment is calculated.

Supporters of using the chained CPI to calculate cost-of-living increases maintain that it will reduce the federal deficit.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC