Zero COLA is Bad News for Older Middle Class Families and Michigan Businesses

Oct 22, 2010, 08:05 ET from Elder Law of Michigan, Inc.

LANSING, Mich., Oct. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The news of no cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) by the Social Security Administration (SSA) for Social Security recipients last week is another economic hardship for thousands of older middle class adults in Michigan who are struggling financially.  Elder Law of Michigan, a non-profit charitable organization, estimates that over 37% of older adults in Michigan do not have enough income to pay their bills.  "According to our calculations as part of the Elder Economic Security Standard Index over 265,000 people 65 and older don't have enough income to cover their most basic expenses," said Kate White, Executive Director of Elder Law of Michigan.  "When that many older families can't pay their rent or buy enough food and medicine, it takes a terrible toll and forces hard choices.  Beyond the human cost, it hurts our economy because Social Security gets spent every month on local goods and services," said White.  

With Medicare Part B premiums rates scheduled to increase, and proposed increases in Medigap insurance on the horizon for 2011, the COLA freeze will actually result in a cut to Social Security for many seniors already forced to choose between heating their homes, buying their medicine and putting food on the table.  "Health care and prescription drug costs continue to rise.  It is ridiculous to ignore the fact that older adults are paying more at a time when their incomes are falling," said White.

Part of the solution is to urge older adults on fixed incomes to apply for the Medicare Low Income Subsidy and Medicare Savings Programs to reduce their prescription drug and health care costs, and the food assistance program to reduce expenses at the grocery store.  Elder Law of Michigan's Benefit Options and Enrollment Center (BOEC) help older adults find relief to reduce their costs and give them money to cover their basic needs. The BOEC finds an average $840 to $4,200 per year back into their pockets. The BOEC can be reached at 800-347-5297.

"I encourage more people to study the economics of aging.  Flat Social Security earnings and rising health care costs mean immediate hardship for our parents and grandparents and significant financial losses to Michigan businesses," said White.  With high unemployment and thousands of workers age 60 and older dropping out of the job market altogether, the Benefit Options and Enrollment Center is a critical resource to offer short term economic stability and security to families headed by someone age 60 and older.


Kate White


SOURCE Elder Law of Michigan, Inc.