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No increase in Social Security checks likely in 2017

Written by Diane Archer

For the second year in a row, people receiving Social Security should expect to see little or no increase in their Social Security checks in 2017; the increase ensures people’s checks keep pace with inflation, preventing their benefits from eroding. Any change to the amount of Social Security benefits people receive is based on the consumer price index.

The latest Social Security Trustees’ report forecasts a cost of living adjustment of 0.2 percent for next year or $2.60 on the average monthly benefit of slightly more than $1,300.

As it is, Congress should be expanding the Social Security benefit. $1,300 a month is not enough to meet many people’s retirement needs. It only replaces about 40 percent of a typical retirees’ pre-retirement income. Today, Social Security represents more than half the income of two-thirds of people 65 and older. More than half of all households in the U.S. have no retirement savings.

In 2016, there was no cost of living increase, so no increase in Social Security benefits. But, health care and prescription drug costs for older adults and people with disabilities are mounting, and they make up a far larger proportion of spending for people receiving Social Security benefits than are reflected in the basket of goods that are looked at to determine the cost of living adjustment. As a result, older adults effectively have seen a cut in their Social Security income.

Congress should be looking at a new way to calculate the cost of living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security benefits, a way that accurately reflects the increase in costs older adults and people with disabilities face. Instead of calculating the COLA and Social Security benefit increase based on cost increases for the basket of goods that wage earners are purchasing, the benefit increase should be calculated based on cost increases for the basket of goods that retirees are purchasing. Older adults spend about three times more than working people on health care products and medical care.

Relative to other developed countries, the United States provides some of the lowest benefits.

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  • This is awful! Every thing we buy goes up in price. Food is up. And no, I don’t want to replace the fresh foods I buy with Ramen noodles.
    Luckily, I’m not sick, because I can’t possibly afford any medication at today’s prices.
    My pensions, which are not big, never go up. In fact, I keep getting letters that say they are barely meeting their current obligations and the future retirees are in big trouble.
    The whole system isn’t working!

    • Maybe all elected officials should have to be homeless and have to live only on Social Security for a month each. As the best country in the world what has happened to us that retired and unable to work people are left to struggle the way their are is a shame. It’s as if anyone that isn’t working and making big bucks really doesn’t count.

  • Anyone else notice that the unprecedented 3x no-increase (effectively, as everyone here has said, an income *cut*) for COLA in SSI and SSDI has come with the present, *Democratic* admin?

    And NO, I’m not advertising for Trump by any stretch; I know that Republicans are absolute poison for government programs.

    For that reason, I’m staying a registered Dem; but I’m not voting for Clinton, as she got onboard not just with the platform of expanding SS, but with *not cutting* SSDI, only reluctantly and at the last minute. She’s what used to be called a Consular Democrat.

    • Better that she came on board “reluctantly” that being openly opposed like Trump is. One of the good things that have come out of the Sanders campaign is that he now can influence the Democratic platform. Sitting on your thumbs is effectively a vote for the GOP i.e. one less vote for the Democratic party.

      • …we’ll see how good she makes on her promises considering, for the most part, the very un-progressive platform that the party has been adopted.

        • No president has ever been able to keep all his promises because nobody knows what he/she will face once sitting in that chair. I don’t believe that Trump can build a wall along the Texas border either but I’m not going to vote for anyone who makes such a stupid promise. I’d much rather they stick to making promises they have a halfway decent chance of keeping, then work towards better policies.

  • I’d like to see Congress live on what we get from Social Security and I worked all my life since I was 14 and I’m 67 now. And I have to get a part-time job just to make it and I’m disabled.

    • Ridiculous that you would have to do that in the real world. My parents retired and were pretty much able to keep their previous lifestyle but that was only because they were making close to 100K between them per year.

    • I totally agree…..the “work” 97 days for 2016….they are currently on a 7 week vacation leaving an incredible amount of work not done….they deserve neither a paycheck nor a vacation…..their pensions will sure be paid in full though….

  • Several of the medications that I have to take have increased in price by 700% this year ($5/month to $35/month). Even if we get a COLA next year I’ll still be hurting. But the GOP Congress (not the President) seems determined to punish us for getting older. The COLA indices need to be adjusted to reflect real life and real price increases and be based on the things that people on SSI purchase – not on items that are chosen to get the lowest perceived cost of living increase percentage.

  • …as of this year the Medicare premium for new SS recipients has gone up.

    Another expense (and a big one) not being mentioned is housing. Rents in many cities are skyrocketing. Where I live (Portland OR) they are out of control. Meanwhile the availability of subsidised low/fixed income rentals is dwindling and in some places has been exhausted. Here in Portland the average wait list is about five years (and I have seen it as high as 10). How is one supposed to make it until something opens up when rents on average are as much (if not more than) as one’s monthly benefit cheque? Portland has the dubious honor of having the fastest rising rents in the nation. due to a push by city officials to and developers to make Portland a green, progressive, and livable city. Sadly it is also making the city “economically unlivable” for seniors. Developers are naturally loathe to build or manage low income housing because there is no profit in it for them (as well as a having to deal with a lot of bureaucracy).

    We need to remain in walkable neighbouhoods, not be pushed to the outlying burbs where everything is miles apart, transit is poor, and many areas don’t even have sidewalks and safe crosswalks. Suburban life may be fine if you drive everywhere, however, many of us don’t for either economic or medical reasons. Instead of feeling like being an active member of a neighbourhood community, in the burbs there is more a sense of isolation. You are further from friends, from places to socialise, from entertainment and from services like shopping and clinics. My idea of retirement is not sitting sitting around at home all day watching Fox news, game shows, soap operas or reruns on the telly, I like to get out and about. I still ride a bike around my neighbourhood, even for doing errands like marketing (a very dangerous activity in the burbs even in “bike friendly” Portland). I like to take walks on nice days (scary when you have to walk on the shoulder of a busy road with traffic whizzing by at 40+ mph within inches of you). I don’t want to have to deal with multiple bus transfers each way every time I plan to go out and do something. Retired life in the burbs is the last thing I would find enjoyable or rewarding.

    Rising housing costs should be one of the primary issues addressed. The previous recession turned a lot of home owners (including older folks) into renters who are now at the mercy of landlords and rental management firms which feel they can ask whatever they want. Many of us would like to continue leading independent lives and not be cooped up in group retirement facilities, where our lives are “managed” according to some gerontologist’s recommendations. Crikey, I find those places most depressing, with their pre-programmed “activities”, visitation hours, set menus, curfews & the such. That’s not living, that’s merely existing.

    Unfortunately with the demise of pensions in most occupations (save for government circles) and the recent recession which destroyed savings for many, Social Security is all we have left. It was meant to allow retirees to live in dignity, not poverty. Living costs don’t magically stop increasing once you retire.

    • I know how you feel. I get a total of $753 in ssdi and ssi. My rent went up on 01/01/2016 from $630 to 680!!! I’m lucky to be able to keep my electric bill under $27 a month.

  • I don’t know how the government can say there is no inflation…compare the price of a quart of milk, loaf of bread, any prescription, any service..i.e. painting, plumbing, handyman, etc with what they were last year. You will very quickly conclude that life gets more expensive each day. Your auto policy, home policy, health ins increase with every year that passes. WAKE UP GOVERNMENT AND SEE REALITY FOR WHAT IT IS. The cost of living increases with every year and you decide we will no receive increases each and every year. What kind of government is this…perhaps you won’t need the increases but believe me, a large percentage of us DO!!!!!!!

    • I read that congress has voted itself a $2,800/year raise for next year. Obviously, they ‘need’ it more than we do.

  • I think they are hoping we will all just die off. I only get $1071 a month. Had to trade my PPO Humana plan to a HMO plan just to be able to go to my regular doctor, with it only costing me $10 instead of $25. Seeing a specialist is out of question. I have no money to go. No gas money or grocery money after paying huge electrical bills and insurance just to drive, plus a car payment and I am still paying for a hospital stay in 2011. It is pitiful the cost of groceries. Fifty dollars I can carry in two small bags if I eat meat and buy toilet paper, paper towels and detergent. I am disabled and have a fake leg, has a huge hernia after 4 abdominal surgeries and I cant afford to fix it. My hearing is horrible, but cant afford hearing aids. Not covered, or glasses, or dentures. They don’t care one fig for anybody after 65, apparently even their own mother or father, but their parents are probably wealthy to begin with. It is a fact that we are abandoned by the GOP and are planning to cut us another 10% in benefits this coming year if they win the election.

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