2008-12-03 / Seniors

Senior Spotlight

Weiner Says S.S. COLA Is Not Enough Help For NYers
By John Toscano

Noting that Cost of Living Increases, or COLAs that are added to Social Security benefits for New York City seniors have no effect because of the high cost of living here, Congressmember Anthony Weiner has introduced a bill that would require that COLAs be determined by the various regions of the country.

The lawmaker said if the COLA Fairness Act was enacted, it would deliver a 2-percent boost in Social Security benefits for New Yorkers over the next five years.

Weiner said that more than 182,000 seniors in New York City earn under $11,000 a year and depend heavily on their Social Security check as their sole source of income.

"And frankly," he added, "Social Security income isn't a lot. Social Security income in New York City is only $13,505 [annually]. As any New Yorker can attest, even the generous estimation of $24,505 a year is hardly enough to cover daily living expenses, combined with the costs of insurance and medication. In reality incomes are worth less by the year, since the cost of everything—food, heating, oil and medicine— is skyrocketing."

Weiner said that a recent study by his office revealed that the costs of living in New York City are outpacing the COLAs from Social Security. Although the COLA for next year will increase by 5.8 percent—the largest increase in 25 years—this does not nearly match the percentage increase for a variety of daily necessities.

During 2007, Weiner said, Medicare prescription drugs rose by 12 percent, and food prices by 7.3 percent, the biggest increase since 1990.

FLUSHING GETS PEDESTRIAN SAFETY PROGRAM: City Councilmember John Liu (D- Flushing) and officials from the city Department of Transportation presented the details of Flushing's "Safe Streets for Seniors"

program this past Monday morning at the Rosenthal Senior Center

Liu explained that Flushing is one of five pilot neighborhoods in the city to get the infrastructure changes and improvements as part of the program, which includes pedestrian islands, traffic calming, signal timing and other safety mechanisms.

The forum also included videos and other educational resources that show seniors how they can improve their safety on city streets.

FUND FOR AID TO HOMELESS VETERANS: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D- New York) has introduced legislation that would create the Homeless Veterans Assistance Fund to provide aid to homeless vets. The bill would allow taxpayers to designate a portion of their income taxes to supplement existing homeless veterans' assistance programs.

The American Legion and other veterans' organizations applauded the bill. Mark Warner, an official of the organization said the legislation "certainly helps us in our advocacy efforts on behalf of some of our most vulnerable veterans".

Justin Brown, legislative associate of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said, "This legislation is a great way to allow Americans to honor and give back to those who have sacrificed so much for our nation. There is no justification for our defenders to be living in the streets of the country they so vigorously protected."

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