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Editorial: Times could get tougher for seniors

March 30, 2011
Marshall Independent

The government needs to do a better job of looking out for our more aged population, some of whom struggle more than anyone in looking out for themselves.

The U.S. government is predicting a cost-of-living increase in Social Security payments for the first time since 2009. For many beneficiaries, however, increasing Medicare premiums would more than likely wipe out any rise in payments, meaning no raise in their payment for a third year in a row.

The AARP has estimated that up to three-quarters of beneficiaries will have their entire Social Security increase wiped out by rising Medicare premiums next year.

Those who could be feeling the pinch are retirees who lost so much of their savings when the stock market collapsed and those who lost value in their homes when the housing market crashed. The U.S. government needs to watch out for these people and find some way to soften the blow.

The government has bailed out banks and auto companies in the past few years, so why not look out for our struggling, retired and disabled Americans more, take care of them like it took care of the financial institutions that dug themselves deep financial pits only to get bailed out by the feds?

Every year from 1975 to 2009, there had been a COLA - a cost-of-living adjustment. COLAs are determined by a government measure of inflation - when consumer prices rise, payments go up; when they fall, payments stay flat. The recent recession, which the government insists we are close to putting behind us, has lowered consumer prices, taking away COLA in 2010 and 2011.

Next year's COLA is expected to be anywhere from 0.9 percent to 1.2 percent, which works out to be an average increase between $10 and $13 - we'll find out how much it will be in October.

It doesn't sound like a lot of money, but for our seniors and disabled persons, every little bit counts, especially in a time when the price of gas, food, and utilities keeps going up.

And at the state level, a spending cut is threatening the future of home-delivered meals to seniors through the Meals on Wheels program. A Republican proposal expected to be voted on by the Senate this week would slice spending on senior nutrition program grants in half.

We knew cuts were going to be tough, but taking from our most vulnerable citizens -?a population of people that has been projected to double in the next two decades - seems downright unfair. Those who receive meals and daily visits through Meals on Wheels see the program as more of a blessing than just a bag of food.



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