Social Security benefits increasing almost 6 percent next year

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for nearly 70 million Americans will increase by almost 6 percent next year, marking its biggest increase in nearly 40 years.

The agency announced on Wednesday that seniors will begin to see the 5.9 percent cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) starting next year. The office also said increased payments for about 8 million SSI beneficiaries are scheduled to start on Dec. 30.

The agency said the annual COLA is linked to the increase in the consumer price index.

Richard Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, said in a statement that an increase will “amount to an additional $92 a month for the average retired worker.”

“However, as welcome as this news is, too many older Americans will continue to struggle to make ends meet,” he continued, while voicing support for a Democratic proposal aimed at lowering prescription drug prices. 

“We are calling on Congress to pass President Biden’s Build Back Better Act and include a provision allowing Medicare to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs in the package and lower the amount that beneficiaries are paying at the pharmacy counter,” he said. 

“The savings from these negotiations should be used to add guaranteed Medicare dental, hearing and vision benefits,” Fiesta added.

The 5.9 percent increase to COLA is the highest increase it has received since 1982. 

House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman John Larson (D-Conn.) also said the recent announcement by the agency “only further underscores the need for Congress to act on Social Security.”

“It has been more than 50 years since Congress has improved Social Security benefits. Seniors are suffering – five million are living below the poverty line – current Social Security benefits are not enough,” he said.

The agency said some adjustments will also be based on the rise in average wages. As a result, the office said the maximum amount of earnings that will be subject to the Social Security tax will increase to $147,000 from $142,800. 

The changes come as fears over inflation have swelled in recent months amid an increase in prices, adding pressure to the White House as the nation’s economy continues to recover from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Tags benefits federal assistance Joe Biden John Larson Social Security

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