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Two July 2 'Human Chains' for Social Security in South Carolina

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Two South Carolina demonstrations gathered 30 participants, who didn’t let July 2’s heavy rain interrupt their message about Social Security.

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At North Charleston City Hall, 17 umbrella bearers formed the “Human Chain Against Chained CPI,” and 13 attended at Conway’s Social Security office.

Part of a national movement that was featured in 44 U.S. cities, today’s local protests were made against proposals to use a chained consumer price index to calculate annual increases to Social Security income.

The state AFL-CIO and Charleston Central Labor Council aided the South Carolina chapter of the Alliance for Retired Americans in arranging the events.

Instead of using the normal CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) to determine benefits, both the White House and Congressional Republicans support using a chained CPI, which does not include costs of medical care in its calculation and results in a lower percentage.

“According to the Social Security Actuary, moving to a chained CPI would mean an immediate benefit cut,” said Ken Senter, ARA member and the local United Auto Workers retiree’s president. “According to Social Security Works, an average earner retiring in 2011 at age 65 would lose over $6,000 over 15 years if the chained CPI were adopted.

“We paid into the Social Security System all of our working lives,” Senter said at the Conway event. “To change the way we receive our money back at this stage of our lives is wrong.”

In North Charleston, state ARA president Donna Dewitt directed the message directly toward Sen. Tim Scott, who has an office in the City Hall where the demonstration took place.

“(Scott) has voted wrong on every single issue that we have that reflects impact on seniors,” Dewitt said, referring to specific legislation introduced in 2012.

While still in the U.S. House last year, Scott voted against the preferences of ARA on 10 key bills, including ones on Medicare and senior programs.

“We’re here to say, ‘Sen. Scott, please keep your hands off of our Social Security.’”

ARA has 27,000 members in South Carolina and 4 million nationwide.

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