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Good time to write

December 19, 2012
The Daily News


Here are some thoughts about the Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)

The first Social Security check was paid out in 1940 to Ida Mae Fuller.

It was a check for $22.54. Ida Mae then received that amount each month for the next ten years.

In 1950, congress raised the amount substantially, nearly doubling it. The second increase came in 1952.

From that point the increases were by act of congress, with increases coming in '54, '59, '65, '68, '70, 71, 72, and '74, with each increase requiring a separate act of congress, with all its arguments and deal making.

By the time each law passed, inflation had already passed it up. So in 1972, congress passed, and President Nixon signed, a bill to make Social Security increases automatic, tying the amount of the increase to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Thus, neither the congress nor the president would have any further influence upon the COLA. The law took effect in 1975, and ever since then, COLAs have been configured by the amount of inflation in a specific "market basket" set of goods believed to represent the items most likely to be purchased by the average family.

Some have held that the CPI does not actually reflect the living expenses of the elderly, who often have higher health care costs. Others hold that the COLA adjustments have resulted in too much of an increase in Social Security costs, and should be untied from the CPI so as to decrease the rate of growth in Social Security.

This is the position taken by those who espouse "entitlement reform."

If you have an opinion about this issue, now would be a really good time to write or call your congressman.

You can send an email message, or get a phone number, on the congressman's web site. Each member of congress has one, available to find with Google.

Here in Michigan's first district, our representative to congress is Dan Benishek.

Just over the border in Wisconsin, you'll want to contact Reid Ribble.

Lola Johnson




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