Social Security, COLAs, and the Minimum Wage

Sherrill Fulghum By Sherrill Fulghum, 15th Jun 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Society & Issues

Entry level workers are clamouring for a higher wage; but what about those who are retired or disabled and cannot work? How do they survive on less?

Social Security COLA

Like school boards who head immediately to music and art when it comes to slashing a budget; the first place Congress looks when they want to cut the budget is Social Security and Social Services.

Erroneously thinking that Social Security is an entitlement program, Congress sees nothing wrong with taking retirement and disability money that wouldn't match a minimum wage job. Everyone who receives Social Security or Social Security Disability each month is money they have paid into the system. It is an entitlement only in that the recipients are entitled to getting back to money they have already paid in to the system.

As if fighting Congress over keeping what they have rightfully earned wasn't hard enough, the money that is paid out does not keep up with the cost of living. The figures used to calculate what the annual cost of living increase will be does not cover basics like food, heat, and medication.

And while Congress routinely gives themselves large increases for cost of living – or COLAs – the money given to Social Security recipients is an insult at best. While the actual calculating is still a few months away, there is some speculation that the COLA for 2016 could be smaller than 1.7% given in 2014 or even worse nothing at all like in 2010 and 2011. Any increase given to Social Security recipients is based on the Consumer Price Index for July, August, and September in the current year, compared to that of the previous year and given in the next year.

And to make matters even worse the funding is not even for the current months. For example, when a Social Security recipient receives their payment in January, it is for December and will include the increase, if any. But that increase is for whatever inflation was calculated for the PREVIOUS YEAR! THE 1.7% received in 2015 was according to the 2014 prices. To make matters worse, the premiums for Medicare also increase each year – often more than the low COLA increase – leaving recipients with less money each month.

The COLA was introduced in 1975 and has been above 5% nine times in its 40 year history with 14.3% in 1980 and 11. 2% in 1981

There has been a great deal of talk lately about raising the minimum wage for workers of anywhere from $10 to $15 per hour; but what about the millions of people who receive money from Social Security each month? Who is going to fight to get them some higher checks so that they can pay their bills as well?????

Business owners, especially the big corporations, are not going to raise wages without compensating for the loss of money...and that compensation most often comes in the form of higher prices. Prices that will further tax the Social Security recipient who is already strapped for money with some actually having to decide whether or not they will eat or take their medications each month.

People on Social Security have to pay the same housing and food costs that workers do...and with a lot less; but no one is thinking about that when they protest for a $15 an hour burger flipping job.

In 2013 nearly 58 million Americans received payments from Social Security with an average of $1,164...and that is before the $104.90 per month Medicare premium is taken out. And the deductible is $147 PER YEAR before Medicare picks up any of the bill...which is 80% of what the federal government says the charge should be.

Social Security also has a program called SSI – Social Security Supplemental Income – that goes to people with a disability and have never been able to work. While SSI recipients also get free medical care with Medicaid, the payments each month are a maximum of only $733 per month. How is someone supposed to live on that, especially when they have a disability severe enough it keeps them from working and often has some special needs that incur extra fees and services???

But entry level workers want $15 an hour!

There are over 50 million American citizens who have at least some kind of a disability – some of them are gainfully employed; while there are others whose disability is to severe and they are unable to hold a job of any kind. But there is also a good number of this group that would like to work if only they could find a job; but do to any number of circumstances including discrimination cannot get a job. These are the people that Congress is attacking with their budget cuts of one program or another.

Earning a living wage is fine and everyone should be able to make enough money to pay for all the essentials...and that includes the millions of Americans who depend on Social Security each month to live.


Budget Cuts, Congress, Living Wages, Minimum Wage, Seocial Security Disability, Social Security

Meet the author

author avatar Sherrill Fulghum
Sherrill is an award winning journalist with a speciality in music and entertainment. She is also a photographer.

Sherril is a writer for thedailyvoice

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
15th Jun 2015 (#)

I don't even make $15 an hour.

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author avatar Sherrill Fulghum
16th Jun 2015 (#)

I'm not making $15 a month with my writing!

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