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Seniors rally against Social Security changes

Brandon Smith
Indiana Public Broadcasting

An Indiana advocacy group joined dozens of rallies across the state and country against a proposed change to Social Security it says will cut benefits for seniors. 

The House Republican budget in Congress would tie Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustments to what’s called chained CPI, a measure of the Consumer Price Index.  It’s a move aimed at helping reduce the ballooning national debt. 

Seniors groups like the Indiana Alliance for Retired Americans say chained CPI could cost seniors as much as $6,000 in benefits over 15 years.  Alliance President Elmer Blankenship says that’s because chained CPI doesn’t account for increases in healthcare costs. 

He says seniors are already vulnerable to those costs without a cut in Social Security.

“About a third of the people depend on Social Security for 90% of their income.”

Blankenship says the Alliance wants to use a formula supported by Congressman Andre Carson (D-IN7).  Carson says the problem with chained CPI is that it uses data from all age ranges. He’s proposing a formula called CPI-E that’s specific to seniors and how much their expenses are increasing.

“What CPI-E does is that it contains the specificity that we need to extract data from our senior population and use it appropriately.”

Blankenship says CPI-E would result in a roughly $800 a year benefit increase for senior citizens.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.