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The Progressive

Obama’s Proposal Hurts People with Disabilities

In his budget proposal, President Obama is betraying the poorest Americans with disabilities.

By supporting the so-called chained CPI, which alters the way the consumer price index is calculated, Obama would increase the cost of living for people who rely on Social Security and other government programs. It leaves those who have the least with even less.

For example, more than 8 million Americans with disabilities, including more than 1 million disabled children under age 18, depend on Social Security Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The average monthly SSI payment is $520, which is a meager $6,240 a year. For more than 57 per cent of those receiving SSI, this is their only source of income.

Applying the chained CPI would result in an estimated $127 billion less in Social Security payments over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.


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The impact on individuals would be significant. The average monthly SSI payment would be $164 less 10 years from now than it would be using the old formula, according to the Arc, an advocacy group for people with disabilities. In 20 years it would be $341 less, and in 40 years it would be $680 less.

That’s a lot of money for people already living far below the poverty level.

Does Obama really believe that these Social Security payments are too generous?

He speaks a lot of his affinity for the middle class, but if he helps make the chained CPI a reality he will again demonstrate his disregard for anyone not lucky enough to be in it.

Mike Ervin

Mike Ervin is a Chicago-based writer and a disability-rights activist with ADAPT ( He can be reached at

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