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Selectmen to Neal: Fight for elderly

Board drafts letter to Congressman

Thomas Creamer. (click for larger version)
January 24, 2011
STURBRIDGE — Senior citizens are currently paying more for medications than ever before, struggling to stay warm during the winter despite increased heating oil prices, and are now facing potential cuts in Social Security benefits.

Sturbridge Board of Selectmen Chairman Thomas Creamer recently wrote a letter to U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, on behalf of the board, highlighting its concerns about these potential Social Security cuts. The letter also encouraged Neal to continue to advocate for the elderly in the hopes of maintaining their current benefits, while simultaneously working to ensure a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for seniors.

"This modest effort on our part is intended to help highlight the ever-growing need to provide some level of relief against constantly rising energy, fuel, food, and medical costs, which are quickly outpacing the ability of seniors to address," Creamer said.

Social Security, the government program that provides a steady check for seniors, has been in effect for 75 years, but lawmakers in Washington have recently debated the possibility of reforming the program by cutting Social Security benefits and raising the retirement age to 70 or possibly even 75 in an effort to reduce the staggering federal deficit. If Social Security benefits are reduced for seniors, many politicians would likely seek to compensate them with a cost of living adjustment, which is an annual adjustment in wages to offset a financial loss, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

"We have several seniors in town who rely heavily on Social Security, and the cost of living keeps going up," said Selectman Scott Garieri. "We hope that this letter will create some discussion and debate at the state level."

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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