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Social Security Boost
News Bytes 10/18/2021 14 Comments

Millions of retirees on U.S. Social Security will get a boost in benefits next year. It’s the biggest cost-of-living adjustment in 39 years. The increase follows a burst in inflation as the economy struggles to shake off the fiscal drag of the pandemic and associated policies.

Social Security officials say the adjustment amounts to 5.9%, or an added $92 per month for the average retired worker. The change is significant: The cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) has averaged only 1.65% annually for the past 10 years. COLA is meant to help make up for rising costs that recipients are already paying for food, gasoline, and other critical goods and services.

Still, “It goes pretty quickly,” retiree Cliff Rumsey says. After a career in sales for a leading steel manufacturer, Rumsey lives near Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. He cares at home for his wife of nearly 60 years, Judy, who has Alzheimer’s disease. Since the coronavirus pandemic, Rumsey has noted price increases for caregiver wages for those who help him and for personal care products for Judy.

The COLA affects household budgets for about one in five Americans. That’s nearly 70 million people in all. For “Baby Boomers” who retired within the past 15 years, this year’s increase will be the biggest they’ve seen.

Among them is Kitty Ruderman in New York City. She retired from a career as an executive assistant and has been collecting Social Security for about 10 years. “We wait to hear every year what the increase is going to be, and every year it’s been so insignificant,” she says. “This year, thank goodness, it will make a difference.”

Ruderman says she times her grocery shopping to take advantage of midweek senior citizen discounts. But even so, recent price hikes have been “extreme.”

Policymakers say the adjustment is supposed to protect Social Security benefits against the loss of purchasing power, not provide retirees with a pay bump. About half of seniors live in households where Social Security provides at least 50% of their income. One-quarter rely on their monthly payment for all or nearly all their income.

Growing older and worrying about paying bills can be troubling. It can become difficult to practice what the Bible says, “Do not worry about tomorrow.” (Matthew 6:34) But God is faithful. We can trust the one who watches over the birds, the flowers, and the entire universe—and who values His beloved people even more. (Matthew 10:29, 6:28)

Economist Marilyn Moon believes the current inflation spurt will be temporary, due to highly unusual economic conditions. She says, “I would think there is going to be an increase this year that you won’t see reproduced in the future.”

Social Security payments come from payroll taxes collected from workers and their employers. Each pays 6.2% on wages up to a cap. The program dates to the 1930s and was the idea of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He believed a payroll tax would foster a sense of ownership among average Americans and protect the program from political interference. Many people believe it’s fostered over-dependence on government instead.

Retirees who paid into the program their whole working lives are thankful to see some of that money back. Ruderman, the former executive assistant, says, “Social Security is my lifeline.”

(A Social Security card. AP/Jenny Kane)

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Most recent comments

1st comment

Hmm I have a question, which may sound very stupid (but I'm not American so I don't know!), but what is Social Security?

2nd comment!

@Miri, here's what I know about it. When people get payed for their jobs some of it is held back. Then, when they retire they get a certain amount of money a month. I think Social Security is helpful in some cases, but if people are responsible with their money, they could get more out of it if Social Security didn't happen.

3rd comment

IDK @Mirel and I'm American!

Social Security

My grandma relayed on that .

It sets some of your pay

It sets some of your pay check aside for when you retire

@the convo above

yea everyone has a ss number for example, mine is *******

jkjk

jkjk

Yeah, nice idea...in theory.

Yeah, nice idea...in theory. That theory's gonna be a nasty reality in the form of starving wallets, I bet. Mine included! Soooo, I am...suspicious.

@everyone

comment sussy!

@Christian B

What?

@Caro and Franz

Thank you!

@Above

I don't want to have Social Security as "My lifeline" like Ruderman. I would rather work hard when I am young and prosper and save up enough to live on after I retire. That is what I would like to do.

@Mirela

Yes, everyone has their own private number which they DON'T SHARE!!! That is what the persons thumb is hiding in the picture - their number. The number helps you get a lot of places too, like when we visited Washington D.C. Anyone over 12 had to give the last for numbers to their social security to the secret service people so we could go inside the White House. Or when my dad was in college, instead of putting people's names up with their test scores, they would put up the last four of the SS number, so they could find it and know what they got. I don't know if they still do that or not.

@Riley D

it also helps if u get hacked ur social security is a good way to prove the hacker's not u

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