FACT CHECK: Did Every Democrat Vote Against A Cost-Of-Living Increase For Social Security?

Aislinn Murphy | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims that every congressional Democrat voted against a 2.8 percent cost-of-living increase for Social Security.

Verdict: False

The cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) changes each year automatically, without input from Congress. Democrats did not vote on whether to alter or deny the adjustment for 2019.

Fact Check:

The Social Security Administration (SSA) distributes benefits to well over 60 million Americans each month, using annual COLAs to keep the value of those benefits from being eroded by inflation.

Prior to 1975, Congress had to enact legislation to increase these benefits. That ended after President Richard Nixon signed a law authorizing the automatic yearly adjustments received today.

These adjustments are based on the change in consumer prices for a basket of goods and services purchased by urban wage earners and clerical workers. Benefits go up if there is a measurable increase in the index year over year; otherwise, there is no adjustment.

The SSA announced a 2.8 percent increase for 2019, the largest annual adjustment since 2012 and likely the source of the percentage cited by the meme. In recent years, COLAs have been smaller – there was a 2 percent increase in 2018, 0.3 percent in 2017 and no adjustment at all in 2016. However, Congress did not vote on any of these adjustments.

“There have been no House votes in recent sessions of Congress on Social Security COLAs or other one-time payment increases,” Erin Hatch, press secretary for Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee, told The Daily Caller in an email. “The COLA for this year is 2.8 percent, but this came from an automatic adjustment set in law, not from a vote.”

There have also been no recent votes to deny Social Security COLAs in the Senate.

That isn’t to say there hasn’t been legislation introduced to change the adjustments seniors receive. Rep. John Larson of Connecticut introduced the Social Security 2100 Act earlier this year.

The bill proposes a benefit increase of about 2 percent of the average benefit. Additionally, it would change the index used for calculating COLAs to one that more heavily weighs the services that older Americans use, like health care.

The legislation has garnering more than 200 co-sponsors in the House, all of whom are Democrats.

Aislinn Murphy

Fact Check Reporter
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