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Seniors Face Hardship as Social Security Fails to Keep Up with Inflation

Seniors Face Hardship as Social Security Fails to Keep Up with Inflation

May 2, 2024

Seniors Face Hardship as Social Security Fails to Keep Up with Inflation

Recent increases in Social Security payments have not sufficed to meet the needs of many senior citizens grappling with inflation and high living costs, according to a report by The Senior Citizens League, a nonpartisan advocacy group. Despite receiving the two most significant annual adjustments in decades, the rising prices for essentials such as food, housing, and utilities continue to challenge seniors, many of whom are on fixed incomes.

An alarming number of seniors are now depleting emergency funds, incurring credit card debt, or seeking assistance programs. The Social Security Administration reveals that a substantial portion of the elderly population relies on these payments for at least half of their income—42% of elderly women and 37% of elderly men.

The cost-of-living adjustments intended to offset inflation have fallen short. Since 2000, the purchasing power of Social Security benefits has diminished by 36%, with those retired before 2000 needing an additional $517 monthly to maintain the purchasing power they had at the start of the millennium.

Inflation, which reached its peak in mid-2022, prompted adjustments of 5.9% for 2022 and 8.7% for 2023. However, the increase for this year is only 3.2%, as inflation "moderated." Despite this, seniors report that their household expenses have risen more than the benefit increases, with grocery costs alone surging nearly 33% since January 2021.

Shannon Benton, the league’s executive director, stated, “They are suffering, literally suffering. It’s worse now because of the unrelenting inflation of the past couple of years. It’s more profound in that it’s every item.” With inflation 3.5% higher in March than the previous year, seniors face an ongoing loss of buying power. Mary Johnson, an independent policy analyst, predicts that next year's adjustment might be around 3%, depending on future inflation trends.

The issue also carries political weight, potentially influencing senior voters, a crucial demographic in upcoming elections. With polls showing a close split between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, senior support could be critical.

Marty Cohen, a political science professor, notes that financial concerns, especially among those who feel they have fallen behind, can significantly impact voting behavior. With Biden's support among younger Americans waning since 2020 and the senior vote potentially swaying due to financial pressures, the upcoming elections could be tightly contested.

The current state reflects a pressing concern for seniors facing financial strain amidst inflationary pressures, with potential implications for political support as the nation approaches the next presidential election.

CNN Article


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