Throughout history, many societies have provided for the vulnerable – the unemployed, the sick, the disabled, the elderly, and the widowed. In ancient times, the Greeks stockpiled olive oil. And now, here in the United States, we have Social Security.

My grandmother is 90 years old and still drives (be warned when you visit Florida!). When she was born, Social Security didn’t exist. Can you imagine? If we didn’t have Social Security, over 44 percent of our seniors would currently live in poverty. Lucky for my grandmother and for all of our senior citizens, President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law 81 years ago today, marking the first-ever federal assistance program for the elderly.

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Unfortunately, Social Security isn’t fulfilling its promise to provide for our seniors. Each year, Social Security benefits are supposed to be adjusted to keep up with inflation. But in reality, these Social Security cost-of-living-adjustments (COLAs) have fallen short. That’s because the COLA is based upon the cost of living for working people, who spend more on things like gas, whereas retirees spend more on things like healthcare. So, over the past 40 years, seniors have been cheated out of billions and billions of dollars of their earned benefits.

The solution is simple: Social Security COLAs should reflect how seniors spend their money. Fortunately, we already have such a formula— it’s called the CPI-E – Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (although I like to say “Experienced”). Last year, seniors received a 0% COLA – that’s right – not one red cent. Zippo. Nada. Zilch. If the CPI-E had been used, seniors would have gotten a 2.9% raise.

Eighty years ago today, FDR enacted Social Security as part of the New Deal. In Congress, I will demand a New Millennial Deal that takes care of our most vulnerable Americans, including our seniors. I will fight to give our seniors a raise by requiring that the Social Security COLA be calculated using the CPI-E.

Help me fight for a New Millennial Deal so that we can fulfill our promise to provide for our seniors. After all, our parents and grandparents took care of us, and now it’s our turn to take care of them.

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Dr. Dena Grayson

For Health, Equality, and Progress. For You.