• Grayson says change to Social Security calculations needed


    WASHINGTON - There won't be an increase in Social Security benefits this year.

    That is a blow for 70 million seniors, many of whom rely on Social Security checks to survive.

    Federal officials announced Thursday that there will be no increase in the monthly payments. It's a move that also affects disabled veterans.

    Experts say the price of gas is one of the driving forces behind the announcement.

    Social Security benefits are tied to the government's measure of inflation at the consumer level, and because of falling gas prices, inflation is thought to be lower.

    "We have used the wrong calculations in order to calculate what the cost of living adjustment should be for seniors and for the handicapped under the Social Security Act," U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) said.

    Grayson calls it a glitch and wants to change the way the government comes up with its formula.

    "It is called the CPIE -- the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly. If we use that, then the seniors would be getting the cost of living increase they deserve," Grayson said.

    Medical costs, a big-ticket item for many retirees, have risen faster than inflation.

    Social Security recipients also spend more of their monthly budgets on food and housing than do younger workers.

    Saving on gas doesn't generally mean more money in seniors' pockets.

    The typical retiree's benefit is about $1,300 a month.

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