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AARP Rallies Local Seniors To Fight Against Cuts To Social Security

Gino Geruntino, WIBX

Local senior citizens are banding together to keep possible cuts from affecting their monthly Social Security benefits.

AARP members were at the North Utica Senior Center to discuss the possibility of more than $7 billion in social security cuts statewide over the next ten years.

Erin Mitchell, Associate State Director for the group, says these cuts are tied to not only the sequester, but to other factors including what’s known as a chained CPI.

“If they include in that sequester vote the chained CPI, it’s a way to calculate Social Security’s Cost of Living Adjustment known as the COLA, over the next ten years $112 billion will be taken from Social Security,” Mitchell said.

In the simplest terms, a chained CPI is used to determine the amount of Social Security benefits at a given time. When the cost of a product increases, the government assumes people will simply choose cheaper, but similar goods. In place of steak, this may mean chicken or in place of apples, one could buy bananas. But, the situation becomes sticky when people look to noncontrolled factors such as medication, electricity or heat.

Nancy Ketz, who receives benefits along with her mother, says the cuts will have varied impacts.

“What has me upset is how it doesn’t affect everybody equally,” Ketz said. “It’s going to be extremely severe for the people how are the oldest, the ones who are on the most fixed incomes and don’t have options. The ones who have major expenses that you can’t substitute for.”

Mitchell says the group has teamed up with others including the American Legion, VFW and Disabled American Veterans to fight the cuts. These organizations are also going to feel the sting of decreased benefits, especially those who rely on Social Security income as their only source of money.

In the Utica area, more than 53,000 residents live on Social Security benefits. Statewide the number is close to 2.5 million. When broken down, the $7 billion cuts during the next decade would translate to about a $104 million dollar shortchange to local seniors.

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