Social security checks could increase as inflation creates hardship for seniors

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Record-setting inflation is impacting our community and seniors on a fixed income are struggling.

”Food’s gone up 40 percent,” said 73-year-old Loretta Duvall. “We can’t travel because of gas. It makes us weary like we can’t do this, we can’t do that, because we don’t have any money,” she said.

Nonprofits and the federal government have begun exploring solutions to help our older neighbors. A vote scheduled for October could increase social security checks—the highest hike in 40 years. If passed it could put nearly $2,000 more in seniors’ bank accounts every year. But in the interim, nonprofits like ElderSource are working to help our neighbors find assistance.

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”Our food and our expenses have increased 40 percent,” stressed Duval. Seniors on a fixed income like Duvall and her husband are having to re-prioritize.”[We are going to] take more money out of our investments, which was gonna be for our long-term care,” she said. ”I’m going in for knee surgery and before I can even see the doctor, I have to pay $500,” she explained.

Gas, food, and Medicare Part B are some of the fastest-growing costs for older Americans.

”If one of those things goes up, now they’re in a crisis,” said Linda Levin, CEO of ElderSource. The nonprofit receives about 6,000 calls a month on its Aging and Disability Resource help hotline. While Levin says the number of calls has stabilized, the types of calls are changing.

”The increase for financial assistance, the increase for rental issues, energy issues, have gone up,” Levin pointed out.

ElderSource helps seniors find emergency aid but also apply for benefits.”So many people don’t realize what they’re eligible for,” Levin emphasized.

Now, those eligible for Social Security could get more money. The advocacy group the Senior Citizens League is forecasting an 8.6% hike in checks next year for a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). That would be the highest adjustment since 1981.69 million Americans receive Social Security, getting an average of $1,658 a month.

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If you calculate the adjustment and add $142.60, that new total is an average of $1,800.

In January, checks saw a COLA increase of 5.9%. That’s the highest adjustment since 1982. ”There has not been an increase in social security for over the last 25 years,” Duvall said, adding that it may come too late. ”It’s not making ends meet,” she stressed. “It makes us weary.”

The Social Security Administration will decide the final adjustment in October.

If you or a senior in your community needs assistance, you can call ElderSource at (904) 391-6600. The nonprofit’s help hotline is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.