Social Security recipients will receive a 5.9% annual cost of living adjustment next year, the largest increase in decades, CNN reports.
The average recipient will get a $92 monthly increase, the highest since 1982, raising the estimated average to $1,657 per month.
"This would be the highest COLA that most beneficiaries living today have ever seen," Mary Johnson, a Social Security and Medicare policy analyst for The Senior Citizens League, told CNN.
The increase will apply to about 70 million recipients, including retirees and the disabled.
This year, the cost of living adjustment was just 1.3%, or about $20 per month.
The cost of living adjustment has averaged around 1.4% per year.
Inflation offsets increase:
The increase will largely be offset by growing inflation.
Many seniors have already complained that they cannot afford to pay bills due to inflation. The Senior Citizens League said it has received more than 200 emails in the last month from retirees who can’t afford to live on their Social Security income.
The group says Social Security recipients’ buying power has fallen by 32% since 2000.
Annual adjustments have increased payments by about 55% since 2000 but typical expenses have grown 105% in the same period.
Not enough to live on:
“Large as it may appear on paper, it is not nearly enough for seniors and people with disabilities on fixed incomes to make ends meet," Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works, told CNN.
About 40% of recipients rely on the monthly checks for 90% of their income.
Housing costs have increased 118% since 2000 and health care costs have increased 145%, meaning that the payments are not keeping pace with actual costs incurred by seniors.