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Congressman Higgins Welcomes News of 2012 Social Security Cost of Living Increase

Oct 19, 2011
Press Release

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) welcomed the news that seniors in Western New York can expect a cost of living adjustment (COLA) in 2012.  On Wednesday, October 19, 2011 the Social Security Administration officially announced next year’s COLA will be 3.6 percent. The increase, which is based on the Consumer Price Index, is the first since 2009.

“For the last two years, seniors have been struggling with increasing costs for medical, living and food expenses, while seeing no adjustment to help with these necessities in their Social Security,” said Congressman Higgins.  “For these Western New Yorkers living on a fixed budget, every little bit helps and we welcome the small relief this will provide to our local seniors.”

Beneficiaries will receive a notice in mid-November explaining their new benefit amounts for 2012 – reflecting the COLA.  It will be paid starting in January, 2012.  Since 1975, Social Security recipients have received an annual COLA based on the consumer price index.  With the exception of the last two years, over the past decade cost of living adjustments have averaged three percent annually.  Social Security benefits average only $14,000 annually.

Congressman Higgins has been a fierce protector of the Social Security program, opposing efforts to privatize or cut benefits.  Earlier this year he joined 124 of his colleagues in opposition to cuts to Social Security Administration’s (SSA) operating budget in H.R. 1.  In 2009, he voted for the one-time $250 Recovery Act benefit for Social Security recipients.  In 2008, Congressman Higgins successfully fought to reduce extremely high Social Security Case backlogs in Western New York. 

In response to no COLA increases in over the last two years, Higgins cosponsored a bill that would have provided a $250 payment for seniors in 2011 and cosponsored the Social Security COLA Act (HR 3536) that would have provide a one-time $150 payment for seniors to account for the 2010 COLA Freeze.    

Approximately 140,000 seniors in Congressman Higgins’ district and over 540,000 people in Western New York receive Social Security.  Additional background information on Social Security COLAs is available at: https://www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.