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Smallest Hike for Social Security Recipients in Iowa Since 1975

PHOTO: National AARP President Rob Romasco speaking at the Kroc Center in Omaha. Courtesy AARP Iowa.
PHOTO: National AARP President Rob Romasco speaking at the Kroc Center in Omaha. Courtesy AARP Iowa.
November 4, 2013

DES MOINES, Iowa - It is the smallest increase for Social Security recipients in Iowa in decades, but it could be worse. The government has announced that Social Security benefits will go up next year by just 1.5 percent.

According to national AARP President Rob Romasco, that's the smallest increase since 1975, but it would be even smaller if there were changes to the way the cost of living is calculated, as some in Congress have proposed.

"If the chained CPI were in effect, that would be 1.2 percent. That's a 20 percent decrease in your benefit increase and over time that compounds," he said. "So if you retire at 65, by the time you're 90, you'll have experienced thousands of dollars in fewer benefits over that time."

Current projections have Social Security staying solvent for about 20 more years, so Romasco said there needs to be a conversation on how to keep the program operating and strong for the future. But, he said, since American workers are the ones who have funded Social Security, it should be a separate debate, not part of any debt talks.

Romasco said the same is true for Medicare, since workers and employers also help with funding that program, which has been squeezed by the high cost of medical care in the U.S.

"We spend $2.7 trillion in this country on health-care costs. On a per-person basis, we are 50 percent more expensive than any other country in the world. We can do better than that," the AARP chief said. "However, we still need to look at Medicare, and AARP is supporting responsible solutions that don't effect beneficiaries, but do make the system more efficient."

Romasco was in Iowa and Nebraska this past week as part of a tour of the U.S., hosting discussions on Medicare and Social Security. In Iowa, those programs benefit around 450,000 senior citizens.

More information is at bit.ly/1b0cHx3.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA