Harkin, AARP Iowa defend Social Security benefit increase
The 3.6 percent increase in Social Security benefits taking effect next year will have a big impact on Iowa’s seniors, say U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Cumming) and the head of AARP Iowa.
Kent Sovern, state director for AARP Iowa, said the first increase in three years will provide “much needed relief to older Iowans” that have struggled with the costs of food, utilities and health care. The increase was announced Wednesday.
He said 123,000 Iowans – who account for more than 21 percent of Social Security beneficiaries across the state -depend on the program for more than 90 percent of their income.
“Every dollar of the modest average benefit, which is about $14,000 a year, is critical,” Sovern said.
Harkin agreed seniors in Iowa have seen prices of gas, groceries and healthcare rise significantly in the past several years.
“This increase in their Social Security benefits will help bridge the gap between these rising costs and the benefits seniors so
rightly deserve,” Harkin said. “It also reminds us of the vital importance of Social Security to American seniors. We must do all that we can to keep our promise to them by maintaining and strengthening Social Security for today’s seniors and generations to come.”
But the irony, Sovern said, is the increase in benefits comes as the debt super committee in Washington, D.C. is considering cutting Social Security benefits by $112 billion over 10 years.
“This so-called ‘chained CPI’ would cut benefits by thousands of dollars and compounds over time, so the older one gets, the larger the cut,” he said.
Sovern said the AARP is committed to fighting with the strength of its membership to stop cuts to Social Security benefits as part of any budget deal.