The chained CPI, a Social Security COLA cut on the table in deficit talks between the President and Republicans, could dramatically worsen poverty among unmarried senior African American women. As such, it violates the request of major progressive organizations in a letter to the White House and Congressional leaders to “make sure that deficit reduction is achieved in a way that does not increase poverty.”
According to the National Women’s Law Center’s analysis of Current Population Survey data, in their report on how the chained CPI would affect women, the median annual Social Security benefit for a 65-year-old single African American woman is $10,680. (By contrast, the median benefit for all single senior women is $13,200.)
That puts the median benefit for African American woman seniors just above the 2010 poverty line for individual seniors, which is an obscenely low $10,458.
Which brings us to the chained CPI (consumer price index), an obscure change to the COLA formula that would cut benefits more with each passing year. If the chained CPI were adopted, by age 70–after just five years of collecting Social Security benefits–the median benefit for African American single women seniors would dip below the poverty line, and continue on a downward spiral as those women age, cutting nearly $1,000 by the time they reach age 95.