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The increase in Social Security benefits could be canceled out by inflation and rising medical costs for seniors

Posted at 6:48 PM, Oct 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-13 19:48:37-04

WISCONSIN (NBC 26) — Many northeast Wisconsinites are going to notice about 90 extra dollars in their social security checks come January. The Social Security Administration announced on Wednesday the largest increase in social security checks in nearly four decades has just been approved.

With America's inflation rate estimated to be at a ten-year high the U.S. dollar doesn't get you as much as it once did. Perhaps those hit hardest by this trend are seniors, relying on social security.

"It's the primary source for revenue for so many seniors and people with disabilities and the only source for revenue for so many," says Nancy Altman the President of Social Security Works.

Altman says she was pleased to hear that social security benefits will increase by about 90 dollars a month for most come January, but she says it's still not enough for many to make ends meet.

"Don't forget these are people on fixed incomes, often just above the poverty line," adds Altman.

A recent AARP survey found that one in four seniors rely on social security benefits for nearly all of their income. And there is a growing concern that even with an estimated $1,100 bump in their yearly income, it won't be enough.

"Every little bit helps, but it's important to note that a 5.9 percent increase really helps people just get by, on their day to day, it doesn't help them get ahead," says Lisa Lamkins of AARP Wisconsin.

Lamkins says all too many seniors are struggling with out-of-pocket healthcare costs and paying for prescription medications. She says these are expenses some seniors can't afford even with their social security benefits.

"One of the fastest rising costs for seniors, that we have seen, that we're hearing from our members about, is the cost of prescription drugs. Those have increased twice as much as inflation," adds Lamkins.

Overall, advocates say the increase is nice but the fear remains that the 5.9 percent bump could be gobbled up as consumer prices continue to climb across the board.

"If those Medicare premiums go up, a rate increase could eat up all or part of your cost-of-living adjustment," adds Lamkins.

Currently, about one-fifth of the country receives social security checks. Come January, the average check will be just over $1,500 a month for the average recipient.