By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. — About 15 Madison County retirees who object to proposed changes in Social Security benefits picketed outside City Hall on Tuesday.
Their protest was part of a national day of action organized by the Alliance for Retired Americans. The alliance opposes a new way of calculating benefits called the "chained CPI." Benefits are currently tied to the Consumer Price Index, but the new plan gaining traction in Washington could lead to lower benefits.
Protesters chose City Hall because U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks, R-5th District, has an office there.
"This is something all the Republicans are going to agree on, but hopefully protests like ours will make a difference," said Jim Hensley, a retired General Motors employee and union activist.
But it also has support from the Obama administration, according to some published reports.
Cost-of-living adjustments to monthly benefits are supposed to help retirees keep up with rising living standards and costs.
The idea behind the "chained CPI" is that as costs go up recipients will find cheaper alternatives to the foods and other items they buy, according to a handout from the alliance.
However, what that doesn't take into account is the rising cost of heath care, which consumes a larger percentage of the income of senior citizens.
According to the alliance, the new calculation would mean an immediate cut in benefits, and could result in the loss of more than $6,000 over 15 years for someone who retired in 2011 at age 65.
"This is not going to help the budget deficit, or help the taxpayer," Hensley said. "They're just trying to cut our benefits."
The protesters were in front of City Hall for about an hour, and responded to the honking horns of passing motorists.
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