This year’s Cost of Living Adjustment for monthly Social Security checks is the largest COLA increase in almost 40 years, at 5.9% to account for record-breaking inflation which now hovers around 7%.
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Late last year, the Social Security Administration released what effect the new COLA increase would have on monthly benefit checks. The average benefit for a recipient of Social Security they state will increase $93 per month, from $1,565 to $1,658 beginning in January 2022. For married recipients and/or those receiving spousal benefits, the average benefit will increase $47 per month, an increase from $794 to $841.
COLA increases are tied to inflation, and the higher inflation goes, the higher the COLA increases get in order to compensate for rising prices. This is a particularly important increase for seniors who are living on a fixed income and rely on Social Security benefits as their main source of income. Seniors are also particularly affected by the rising price of groceries — a sector that largely contributed to price surges in 2021 and continues to push inflation now in early 2022.
Prices for meat — a crucial index, especially for seniors — experienced some of the more dramatic increases which drove overall price surges. Meat and pork now cost roughly 14% more than they did a year ago and beef is up a whopping 20% more. For seniors living on a fixed income, these increases can be prohibitive to everyday needs. Supply chain disruptions complicated by the ongoing pandemic have pressured grocers to increase prices and the sector is, unfortunately, part of the ongoing rhetoric behind the expected transitory inflation said to decline only as the pandemic subsides.
The COLA helps but does not cover overall inflation, which has now surpassed the COLA by almost an entire percent since the new adjustment was announced.
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