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Social Security benefits stay flat for 2011

October 11, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
As if this economy isn't tough enough for Americans, the government just announced there will not be an increase in Social Security benefits next year. This is the second year in a row that retired seniors and disabled Americans will not get a Social Security adjustment for inflation. You might say this is a good news/bad news situation. The good news is that the government says inflation is in check and so the cost of living in the U.S. has apparently not gone up. But if you talk to seniors who have medical bills and prescription drug needs, they'll tell you that's not true. Their cost of living is definitely on the rise.

Retirement is supposed to be a time of pleasure for seniors, but if they have to worry about their finances then it's no fun.

Fifty-eight-point-seven-million Americans are beneficiaries of Social Security and for 64 percent of them, it is their primary source of income. But when the average monthly payment is just over $1,000, most need every penny they can get.

So when the federal government announced this week Social Security checks would not be getting any bigger for the second straight year, it was not good news for those who get them.

"I know that. I'm well aware of it. I'm not happy about it," said Social Security recipient Elizabeth Currier. "It makes a considerable difference. Every little bit helps.

Since the 1970s, Congress has raised Social Security benefits annually based on inflation. But for the past two years we've been told that the cost of living has not gone up. Now tell that to our seniors.

"Everything has gone up," said Social Security recipient Pat Koelsch. "The price of vegetables, fruits, everything. It's tripled, the price of fruits."

"Our food bills are unbelievable," said Social Security recipient Susan Kodish.

And it's not only food. Many seniors need a doctor's care and prescription drugs and those things have definitely been on the rise.

"I just got a prescription last week that didn't have a generic," said Social Security recipient Carolyn Murray. "So the one-month supply was $96 for 30 pills. And I said, 'Oh, forget it. I can get along without this medication. 'Cause I'm not paying that."

"They shouldn't have to be struggling to make ends meet," said Pasadena resident Rebecca Martinez. "I think that the government should make seniors a priority, I really do."

Social Security experts believe there will be a cost-of-living increase late next year, which means Social Security recipients will get a small increase in benefits, but not until the year 2012.


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