Bad News for Older Idahoans: No Social Security COLA...Again

Oct 14, 2010, 10:44 ET from AARP Idaho

2nd Straight Year of No COLA Spells Harder Times Ahead for 65+ in Idaho as Costs for the Basics Continue to Soar

BOISE, Idaho, Oct. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Mere weeks before elections, harsh news is on the horizon for many older voters (the most powerful voting force in every local, state and federal election) across Idaho: another year of no Social Security cost of living adjustment.  Social Security was already an issue weighing heavily on the group's mind, with a recent survey finding 95% of AARP members say it's important for candidates to commit to strengthening the program.  With Friday's expected announcement of no COLA, AARP is calling for relief for older Americans now.

In Idaho, where 260,000 people rely on Social Security, another year with no COLA could prove devastating to many.  While, without the program, nearly half of all Idahoans 65 and older would fall below the poverty level, a survey of the age group in Idaho earlier this year found 97% rely on their Social Security checks as part of their monthly household budget.  All this while costs for the basics like housing, groceries, utilities and prescription drugs continue to soar. (The full survey – Economic Well Being of the 65+ in Idaho can be found here: http://aarp.us/bGj9KS).  

"Elderly Idahoans already have among the lowest incomes in the nation - after seeing their savings plummet over the last few years, another year without a COLA in Social Security could serve as a breaking point for some," said Jim Wordelman, State Director for AARP in Idaho.  "They simply aren't in a position to weather the storm anymore – older Idahoans will need some relief."

Social Security accounts for roughly 50% of family income for over half of Idahoans 65 and older and 90% of family income for nearly a quarter of all state residents.  COLAs to the program are based on the rate of inflation, which has remained stagnant, while heath care costs, which make up 30% of older individuals household expenditures, and utility bills, which account for roughly 20% of expenditures, have soared.  The average yearly Social Security benefit in Idaho is a modest $12,542 or $1,045 a month.

"Some in Washington D.C. are already looking at making cuts to the program, weakening it for future generations," added Wordelman.  "We need to make sure the critical income Social Security provides is not just there for our children and grandchildren, we also need lawmakers to step up to the plate when the program falls short of providing needed relief in unprecedented times."

Last year was the first time in the history of Social Security the program failed to deliver a COLA.  AARP is sending a simple message to Congress: Older Americans need relief, not cuts to Social Security to reduce a deficit it didn't cause.  For more information on the issue visit: www.aarp.org.

AARP is Idaho's largest membership organization with over 180,000 members.

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SOURCE AARP Idaho



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