The ‘younger elderly’—the 66 and 67-year-olds—may be okay financially for the time being, since the chained CPI won’t substantially affect them for years, and they have not outlived their assets. That makes it easier medicine for policy makers to swallow.

Some chained CPI advocates believe that the very old—the ones WaPo calls “those who are well into their 80s,” could receive “a modest lump sum” to help them over their financial hump. The Simpson-Bowles blueprint proposed that those in this age group receive a small increase after they’ve been getting Social Security checks for 20 years.

Will this be enough? Who knows? In theory, it sounds like it solves a problem. In practice, it may not. Imagine 85 year olds barely able to walk having to show up at a Social Security office clutching financial documents, along with the light bill, to prove they are poor enough for the modest lump sum! Opponents argue that’s not what Social Security is about, and the media are beginning to report on that side effect.

Follow our coverage of the coverage of politics and policy on Twitter @CJRSwingStates. And follow the author @Trudy_Lieberman.

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Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.