POLITICS

Harry Reid Vows To Pass Social Security Cost Of Living Benefit For Seniors

10/15/2010 09:02 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vowed Friday to pass a $250 cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security beneficiaries when the Senate reconvenes in November.

Reid's statement follows the announcement that more than 58 million seniors and other Social Security recipients will see no inflation adjustment in their retirement and disability benefits for the second in a row.

"Earlier this year I voted to provide seniors a $250 Social Security raise," Reid said in a statement Friday night. "While Republicans blocked our efforts to help seniors the last time, we cannot give up. When the Senate reconvenes, we will give seniors in Nevada and across the country this badly-needed raise. I will be working hard to gain Senate passage for a proposal that ensures that America's seniors are treated fairly."

Inflation statistics released Friday confirmed that the consumer price index has not risen high enough to allow the Social Security Administration to increase the benefit amounts legally.

The last time seniors endured two straight years with no inflation adjustments to their benefits was 1975.

To compensate for the loss in benefits, Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) has sponsored a measure that would provide Social Security recipients with a $250 one-time payment. Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, penned a letter to President Obama urging him to support one-time $500 payments to all beneficiaries this year.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi supports Pomeroy's measure and has promised to schedule a vote after November elections. "The House will vote to provide seniors with a one-time payment of $250," she said. Since the average monthly check for Social Security is a little over $1,000 a month, that's equivalent to a 2 percent annual increase in the program benefit -- roughly the inflation level set by the Federal Reserve. Still, Firedoglake's David Dayen notes, the $250 would not get factored into the base level for Social Security in future years.

The president has endorsed the measure, with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issuing the following statement Friday:

"Today's news that the Social Security Administration will for a second year not provide a cost of living adjustment for social security benefits highlights these struggles. The president will renew his call for a $250 Economic Recovery Payment to our seniors this year, as well as to veterans and people with disabilities. Last year, under the Recovery Act, 56 million people benefited from the first Economic Recovery Payment -- including about 50 million Social Security beneficiaries. We're grateful that Speaker Pelosi has indicated she will bring the new Economic Recovery Payment to a vote and we urge members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to support our seniors, veterans and others with disabilities who depend on these benefits."

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