WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown today applauded the expected news that Ohio’s nearly two million Social Security recipients will see a 3.5 percent increase in their Social Security benefits beginning in 2012.
“The economic downturn has been particularly hard for seniors, who often struggle to balance the high cost of their prescriptions against grocery and utility bills. The 3.5 percent increase for Social Security recipients will help ensure that nearly two million Ohio seniors are able to afford their daily necessities,” Brown said. “No elderly American should have to choose between paying for medicine or a meal. That’s why it is critical that we preserve Social Security by rejecting plans to privatize the program or raise the retirement age.”
Brown has urged a revision of the formula used to calculate the COLA for Social Security recipients, since the cost of many items that seniors buy—such as prescription medications—have risen faster than inflation. Brown also strongly pushed for legislation to give a one-time, $250 check to Social Security recipients to help offset the rising cost of prescription drugs and other necessities—and last year, Brown was one of six senators to send a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) asking him to support legislation that would provide Social Security recipients with an emergency $250 payment in lieu of a COLA increase.
Brown strongly opposes raising the retirement age for Social Security due to the high number of Ohioans who are engaged in physically demanding work—on a shop floor, production line, or farmland. Brown has long been active in efforts to protect Social Security from privatization, and has worked to ensure that seniors can continue to afford necessities like prescription drugs despite the lack of cost-of-living-adjustments (COLA) that Social Security recipients have faced for the past two years. Earlier this year, Brown introduced outline new legislation that would require Members of Congress to “walk in the same shoes” as working Americans. His bill, the Shared Retirement Sacrifice Act of 2011, would amend the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) to directly tie the Social Security retirement age to current and future Members of Congress’ access to their federal retirement benefits.
Brown, along with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), has also introduced legislation that would require a supermajority (two-thirds) vote in Congress to make any significant changes to Social Security. As of 2009, the median retiree Social Security benefit is $14,000.