Press Release

Gillibrand Announces Legislation To Boost Social Security Benefits For Seniors

Mar 20, 2024

Legislation Would Help Ensure that Social Security Benefits Keep Pace With The Rising Cost Of Health Care  

 Under This Bill, Social Security Cost-Of-Living Adjustment For 2024 Would Have Been 25% Higher

Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand held a virtual press conference to announce the Boosting Benefits and COLAs for Seniors Act, legislation to expand Social Security benefits for seniors. Social Security benefits are adjusted for inflation each year, but adjustments in recent years have not adequately taken into account the rising cost of health care – a major expense for older Americans. Gillibrand’s legislation would correct this issue with the Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) calculation, resulting in higher benefits that better reflect older adults’ true cost of living. 

Social Security is a lifeline for older adults. For many, it’s their main source of income,” said Senator Gillibrand. “But benefits aren’t keeping pace with rising costs, leaving many older Americans struggling to afford the basics – particularly health care. The Boosting Benefits and COLAs for Seniors Act would factor the high cost of health care into Social Security benefit calculations and help make sure recipients aren’t forced to choose between paying for their medication and buying other necessities. Older adults have already spent a lifetime working, saving, and contributing to Social Security. They deserve to retire comfortably, and I’m determined to pass this bill to help ensure they get to.” 

The Social Security COLA is currently calculated using the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). The Boosting Benefits and COLAs for Seniors Act would calculate COLAs using a modified consumer price index, the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E), instead. The CPI-E weighs the cost of health care more highly in its measure of inflation, and is thus generally more reflective of the actual costs incurred by older adults. For example, in January 2024, the CPI-W increased Social Security benefits by 3.2%. The same COLA using the CPI-E formula would have increased benefits by 4%, putting an extra $180a year in the average Social Security recipient’s pocket. 

The Boosting Benefits and COLAs for Seniors Act is cosponsored by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Peter Welch (D-VT), John Fetterman (D-PA), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).