Seniors decry potential changes in Social Security benefits at Rowan

08.22.2013, Uncategorized, by .

Rose Glassberg

Rose Glassberg, of Cherry Hill, discusses the proposed chained CPI Social Security benefit cut that would force many senior citizens to reduce their standard of living during a National Day of Action rally at Rowan University, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. (Staff Photo by Lori M. Nichols/South Jersey Times)

GLASSBORO — The rainy Tuesday weather slightly dampened National Action Day for a group of seniors at Rowan University.

The Glassboro chapter of the Alliance for Retired Americans, a national organization advocating for the rights of its namesake, had planned on making a human chain across Route 322 in the borough to protest against potential security cuts.

The group, meeting in a room inside of Rowan University and abandoning the human chain idea in favor of dryer conditions, discussed the potential effects of President Obama’s proposed 2014 budget.

Obama’s budget would change the statistical formula to calculate the rate of inflation for increases in the cost of living adjustments in Social Security benefits to the Chained Consumer Price Index (CPI) formula.

The group asserts that changing to this formula could lose seniors up to $1,200 a year in annual benefits if the proposal goes through.

Rose Glassberg, an executive officer of the alliance, said that for a demographic where 1/3 of the people receiving Social Security rely on it for 90 percent of their annual income, this possibility is unacceptable.

“What is wrong with CPI is that it believes that seniors don’t need as much of a cost of living increase,” said Glassberg. “To talk about reducing seniors’ cost of living (increases) is not just wrong, but cruel.”

The group is calling for the proposal to be dropped out of the budget and for payments into the system to be restructured based on updated tax brackets.

“The people that make $110,000 a year pay the same amount into Social Security as those making $1.25 million a year,” said Glassberg.

“Really what we’re asking for is for everyone to contribute their fair share,” added Karen Siefring, who was in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting.

The seniors in attendance talked about the importance of government programs, many pointing to the GI Bill, also known as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, as an example of government effectively compensating for those in need. The act paid for many returning World War II soldiers’ college tuition along with offering low-cost mortgages and loans to returning veterans.

Edward Wolfe, a fellow executive director of the alliance, said that the success of the change to Chained CPI is a result of political think tanks’ ability to convince blue collar workers that the change is connected more to “entitlement programs” than it is to benefits.

“They’re manipulating language to support a rather pernicious cause,” said Wolfe.

Chuck Linderman, a Washington Township resident, said that he feels the change focuses too much on the benefits of the seniors rather than trying to adjust the amount high earners pay into Social Security.

“It seems like if you stand back and look at it, it’s a tax on the seniors,” said Linderman.

“And when seniors get money, we spend it,” added Glassberg. “We spend it on our home. We spend it on our kids. We don’t send it to (the Cayman Islands).”

By Phil Davis/South Jersey Times
on July 03, 2013 at 6:00 AM, updated July 03, 2013 at 6:09 PM
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