The brief’s key findings are:
- The recent news of no Social Security COLA in 2016 will prompt some to argue that an inflation index for the elderly only would have shown a rise in prices.
- Historically, an experimental index for the elderly (the CPI-E) has regularly risen more quickly than the broader index used for the COLA (the CPI-W).
- However, since 2002, average CPI-W and CPI-E inflation have been virtually identical due mainly to slower growth in health costs.
- If health cost growth stays modest, the two indexes may remain similar. But if it surges again, it may be time to use an index designed specifically for the elderly.