Sunday, October 18, 2009

Statement from NYS Senator Addabbo on Social Security Administration Announcement on Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) Freeze

State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., reacted to yesterday's official announcement from the Social Security Administration on a COLA freeze for 2010 and 2011.

I’m very discouraged by Thursday’s announcement from Washington. I recently joined with other local elected officials and civic leaders to call on Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue to scrap the agency’s plan to cut off cost-of-living allowances for two years despite rising costs.

For many seniors who call my office, their Social Security check is on a par with their rent, if it’s rent-controlled, and then they also have to pay for their phone, food, and utilities. A lot of older adults in my district live in small apartments in private homes, not subject to rent control. Even those that do live in rent-stabilized units have to face annual rent increases; they just got hit with a 6 percent increase earlier this month. For so many seniors in my district, it’s a Catch-22 situation. They collect Social Security so they can’t apply for public assistance and food stamps because they’re considered to be ‘living above poverty level. In New York City, the cost of everything has risen, from Medicare prescription drug plans (up 7% monthly) to food prices (up 1.4%) and milk, to riding mass transit (up 10%). Our seniors need a regional cost-of-living adjustment. It is not a luxury, but a necessity. Seniors should not have to choose between eating, paying their rent or getting their medication.

If President Barack Obama can bail out banks, insurance giant AIG and the auto industry, he should do better than his recent call on Congress to approve a second round of $250 stimulus or recovery payments for over 50 million Social Security recipients.

As a member of the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Aging, I believe it is important to raise awareness of this critical issue, since the official freeze on Social Security payments for the next two years really puts New York City seniors under a heavy burden, particularly in the weak economy,” said Addabbo.