Higher Gas Prices Affect Us All

May 1, 2012

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(This article appeared in the May/June 2012 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

Judy Beard, Director Retirees Department

With gas prices surging, whether retirees drive or get assistance getting around, they are con cerned about the additional costs at the pump. Questions are being asked: Will there be another cost-ofliving increase next year? What can be done now to ensure we will be able to survive as prices escalate?

The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics bases the determination of increases in the cost-of-living on an index referred to as the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). The price of gas is one of the items used in the calculations.

To ensure that future COLAs don’t shrink, the APWU is asking union members to tell their congressional representatives not to change the formula used to calculate the CPI-W. Max Richtman, the executive vice president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, explained why changing to the “Chained CPI,” would be detrimental to retirees. [The Chained CPI assumes that because of the economic down-turn, consumers are substituting cheaper products for the ones they used to buy.]

“Switching to a chained-CPI will permanently cut COLAs for generations of retirees and people with disabilities – making it harder and harder for them to make ends meet. For the first time, the new analysis released by Rep. Becerra (D-CA) puts a number behind the policy – over time the annual benefit cut will total almost $1,400… If accuracy is really the goal, Congress should change the COLA formula to factor in the large health care expenses most seniors face.”

Some retirees are considering returning to work and have asked how this would affect the annuity or the Social Security payments they receive. While going back to work may bring in additional income, it could also result in a reduction of Social Security benefits. If you are between ages 62 and 65 and exceed the earning limit, your Social Security payments will be reduced by one dollar for every two dollars earned over. Retirees eligible for Social Security who reach full retirement age are not subject to an earnings limit.

The impact of returning to work on your retirement income depends on whether you return to a job in the federal government. Check with the human resources department of the federal agency prior to returning to work.

May Is Aging Americans Month

Nancy Baldwin (third from left) with members of the San Francisco Retiree Chapter, accepts an award for her service.

Nancy Baldwin, a member of the San Francisco Retiree Chapter, is just one of many retirees to receive an award as part of the celebration of May’s Aging Americans Month event.

Over her 39 year career as a postal employee, Nancy’s union activism included serving on the Executive Board of her local union, serving as the Chairperson of the Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing Conference, and leading the San Francisco Deaf/ Hard-of-Hearing Committee.

She was instrumental in the push for closed captioning on TVs in break areas, and in guaranteeing certified interpreters for service talks and disciplinary discussions in all the San Francisco postal facilities.

Since retiring in 2009, Nancy enjoys attending deaf senior socials and works as a volunteer with the Northern California Association of the Deaf-Blind (NCADB).

Congratulations are extended to Nancy and all our retirees.

Retiree Conference 

The national Retirees Pre-Convention Conference is scheduled for Aug. 18-19, 2012, in Los Angeles, CA. Register online, or call (877) 279-8669 to have a registration form mailed to you.

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