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Alliance For Retired Americans Friday Alert, November 15, 2013

Veterans Day Message: “Don’t Cut Veterans’ Benefits”

The Alliance continued holding events with coalition partners around Veterans Day this week, drawing attention to the fact that veterans’ benefits would be cut in multiple ways if the chained CPI cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) formula were to be adopted. The chained CPI affects Social Security beneficiaries as well as those who receive veterans’ disability benefits and military pensions. Because of the number of programs that would be subject to the chained CPI, veterans would receive double, triple or more hits. With that in mind, Alliance members held events this week in cities including Waco, Texas; Ankeny, Iowa; St. Louis, MO; and Reading, PA. The events are taking place before a December 13 deadline, when a House-Senate budget conference committee is charged with reaching a 2014 budget compromise. Such a deal could contain a “grand bargain” that would cut seniors’ Social Security and Medicare benefits.

The Waco event focused attention on Texas Rep. Bill Flores, one of 51 House Republicans who signed a letter authored by Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI) advocating cuts to earned benefits. The letter argued for raising the retirement age; adjusting the COLA formula; means-testing Social Security benefits; and other cuts (http://tinyurl.com/psply6q).  See the Waco Tribune’s coverage of the Alliance’s Texas event at http://tinyurl.com/pqx6o6d.

The Iowa event focused on Sen. Charles Grassley (R), who is on the budget conference committee. For a TV clip about the event from Des Moines local news, go to http://tinyurl.com/n4zqans. For print coverage, see http://tinyurl.com/me4xpkf. The St. Louis event, held fittingly at the Soldiers’ Memorial, was covered by local radio as well as affiliates from NBC, FOX, and CBS. Finally, for coverage out of Pennsylvania, go to http://tinyurl.com/lkp33bh. “All of the events were great successes in letting people know what seniors and veterans could soon be facing,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “Some people needed a reminder that we should honor our veterans by ensuring that they receive all of their hard-earned benefits.”

Along those lines, Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, and J. David Cox, chair of the AFL-CIO Union Veterans Council and president of AFGE, co-authored a blog post that ran in Huffington Post on Veterans Day. They drew attention to the members of our armed services who gave their lives in service of our country, as well as to 3.2 million disabled veterans and their families -including the 350,000 spouses and children who live with a disabled veteran, or who lost a loved one in battle. To read the full post about benefits for them, go to http://tinyurl.com/lyb5zue.

700,000 Signatures Against Cuts Delivered to Budget Conference Committee Chairs
On Wednesday, Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) office received a petition signed by more than 700,000 people that said there should be “no grand bargain” in the budget negotiations being led by Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) “in exchange for cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) spearheaded the effort in the Senate. For video of the petition delivery to Rep. Ryan’s office, go to http://tinyurl.com/lzy7sn2. For video of the Alliance's drop-off at Sen. Murray's (D-WA) office, go to http://youtu.be/pKsLZCdY9_Q. If you have not yet taken action on this issue, you can now send a message to your Representative at http://bit.ly/1cwvMJd.

Senate Aging Committee Launches New Anti-Fraud Hotline, Enhanced Website
If you or someone you know suspects you’ve been the victim of a scam or fraud aimed at seniors, you can now call a new toll-free hotline that the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging has set up. Unveiled on Wednesday, it will be staffed by a team of investigators who have experience with investment scams; identity theft; Medicare and Social Security fraud; and other senior exploitation issues. Anyone with information about suspected fraud can call the fraud hotline at 1-855-303-9470, or contact the committee through its website, at http://www.aging.senate.gov/fraud-hotline. “The committee’s hotline offers a direct defense against cruel scams aimed at seniors,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are the chairman and ranking member of the committee. This year, the panel has held hearings examining Jamaican lottery scams, tax-related identity theft, Social Security fraud and the impact of payday loans on seniors. The hotline’s unveiling coincides with the committee’s launch of an enhanced website, featuring large print, simple navigation and an uncluttered layout that enables seniors to find information more easily.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Releases Guides for Managing Others’ $Recently, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) published four guides to help financial caregivers, particularly those who handle the finances of older Americans, carry out their duties and responsibilities in managing someone else's money. Millions of Americans are acting as fiduciaries, meaning they manage money or property for someone else. About 22 million people age 60 or older have named someone in a power of attorney to make financial decisions for them, and millions of others have court-appointed guardians or other fiduciaries. The fiduciaries that help them are a critical source of support, but often have no training.

The CFPB released guides that explain the four main responsibilities of a fiduciary. The first duty is to act in the person’s best interest, which means, for example, not to loan or give the person’s money to themselves or others. Also on the list: maintaining good records; managing money and property carefully, such as by paying bills on time; and keeping the money and property separate from the fiduciary’s own. A copy of the guides can be found at http://tinyurl.com/llgeqhh.


Chained CPI or another Topic on Your Mind? Write a Letter to the Editor, Win a Pen!With Veterans Day in the news, Alliance members have an excellent opportunity to write a letter to the editor in their local paper. If you want others to know about the chained CPI or another topic, take a moment and start writing. If your submission is published, the Alliance will send you a free, union-made “Retirees with the Write Stuff” pen. Most recently, Linda Andrews, Bruce Bostick, Jo Etta Brown, Robert Dougherty, John Dyce, Lucy Edwards, Jim Hagerty, Gary Hall, Kathy Helmbock, Judy Jobes, Steve Kloppenburg, Gene Lantz, Terry Lochhead, Bette Marafino, Al Mumm, Harold Schuler, Carl Schwartz, Bob Shimabukuro, and William Stevens contributed to the national dialogue. Please e-mail aracommunications@retiredamericans.org if you have had a letter published. “Letters to the editor are a cost-effective way to get our message out,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance.

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