FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – Seniors are about to see something they haven’t seen in two years – a raise.
The Social Security Administration is expected to announce Wednesday a COLA — a cost of living adjustment of around 3.5 percent –the first increase in benefits since 2009. Seniors receiving the average benefit of $1082 per month would receive an extra $37.84 each month, or about $455 per year.
August Robichaud, of Hollywood, and his wife live primarily off of Social Security. He said he appreciates the increase but it won’t alter his lifestyle.
“It won’t pull me up like I’m gonna go out there and buy a bottle of champagne,” Robichaud told CBS 4’s Carey Codd.
Robichaud – a former U.S. Marine — said it’s been difficult going without a cost of living increase in Social Security the past two years.
“You cut back on everything — your food, your going out to dinner. Going on vacation? You can forget about that,” Robichaud said.
For retirees who are dependent on Social Security, $38 a month can be a difference maker, says David Asher, who counsels retirees at the center for Jewish Family Services in Los Angeles.
“It could be the difference between food and rent or between going to the doctor or cutting back on their prescription drugs, or getting prescription drugs,” Asher told CBS News. “It could be a matter of life and death for some people.”
There hasn’t been an increase in Social Security benefits for two years because inflation was too low for a cost of living increase to kick in. It’s been a double whammy for some retirees — no increase in benefits and almost no return on savings because interest rates are low.
Tyrone Johnson is grateful for the cost of living increase but he says the cost of food and other necessities like medicine and gas are so high he doubts the raise will make a big difference.
“It really don’t show up when you go to the grocery store,” Johnson said. “The cost of living is just high now. We’re just barely making it.”
It’s unlikely seniors will see all of the increase, however. Experts predict a rise in Medicare costs in 2012 will likely eat up a portion of the increase.