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Social Security COLA Increase: A Critical Examination



Social Security COLA Increase: A Critical Examination

Social Security COLA Increase: A Critical Examination. The upcoming COLA boost from the Social Security Administration might not be the financial relief retirees were hoping for. Here’s a closer look at why.

Inflation Concerns and Rising Costs

Despite a 3.2% increase in benefits, some retirees feel the boost falls short, especially considering the current economic climate. The inflated prices of essentials like food, coupled with the overall expensive nature of goods and services, pose a significant challenge for seniors relying on retirement benefits.

Read Also: Sustaining SNAP Benefits and Overcoming Work Requirements

Health Care Costs on the Rise

With advancing age, health care expenses become a prominent concern. The escalating prices of health care services add an extra layer of financial strain for retirees. From December to January 24, over 71 million Social Security beneficiaries are set to receive their adjusted payments, attempting to address these growing costs.

Calculating the Impact: Average Monthly Increase

Thanks to the COLA jump, beneficiaries are expected to receive an average of $50 extra per month. While this might seem modest on a monthly basis, the cumulative effect over a year results in a substantial $600 increase. While some may view this as a nominal amount, it could potentially serve as a valuable emergency fund by the end of 2024.

COLA Limitations and Buying Power Erosion

The way COLA is calculated, using the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, has its limitations. Despite the increase, it might not align with the actual expenses seniors face. Reports suggest that seniors, especially those on retirement benefits for an extended period, may have lost around 40% of their purchasing power.

Impact on Seniors Since 2000

The Senior Citizen League highlights the potential loss of buying power over the years. Factors such as a 40% reduction in purchasing power, coupled with rising costs of Medicare, medicines, and supplements, contribute to financial challenges for retirees. The continuous increase in living expenses, including housing, bills, and gas, further underscores the struggle faced by seniors on fixed incomes.

Growing Senior Poverty Rates

Recent Census Bureau data reveals a concerning trend of increasing poverty rates among seniors aged 65 and older. The percentage rose from 10.7% in 2021 to 14.1% in 2022. This upward trajectory emphasizes the pressing need for alternative financial support, such as SNAP benefits, for retirees heavily dependent on Social Security.

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