Inflation surge drives up Social Security benefits by 5.9% for 2022

(WIVB) — People on social security are about to get their biggest cost-of-living bump in 40 years, come January almost six percent. It may be good news for seniors, but there are serious reasons why their government checks are getting a boost.

The cost-of-living adjustment is set at 5.9 percent, which comes to more than $90 a month for the average retiree.

But with the cost of food, gas, and heat going up this winter, seniors are not exactly celebrating.

They are not singing the praises of Social Security’s biggest cost-of-living jump in 40 years here at Amherst’s Senior Services Center, but it was big news.

“Unless you’ve got some nice investments someplace, or you’ve got two people working in the family, otherwise it is almost impossible. You are going down, we are not going up, we are going down. You are lucky to stay even,” said Bronislaus Puchalski.

“It is certainly not going to help a whole lot, the price of gas, groceries, medications, everything has just gone sky high. So it is a blessing to have it for sure,” added retiree Sally Donnelly.

The cost-of-living increase might be bringing mixed feelings here in Amherst, but senior advocates say statewide, it is a necessity.

“One in four older New Yorkers relies on Social Security for at least 90 percent of their income in retirement. So an increase like that it is real money that makes an impact for people,” Joe Stelling, AARP Associate State Director added.

The last time Social Security benefits jumped this much was 1982 during a period of runaway inflation and as late as 2016 there was no increase.

“It is not a great increase and a great improvement, but like I say, every little bit helps,” said Brian Vaughn, Amherst retiree.

The cost-of-living jump could also be an omen for higher prices to come which would cost all of us. But Paul Coleman of Level Financial Advisors told us, the experts are calling this inflation “transitory.”

Paul Coleman of Level Financial Advisors said, “I would remind people that transitory does not necessarily mean three months, it can mean 18 months. What it does not mean, if we are truly transitory, we are not looking at 10 years of this inflation. This should not be the 80’s all over.”

But there is a reason for optimism when Social Security jumped by more than 10 percent in 1982, the inflation rate was more than 10 percent. That year, it dropped to 6 percent.

Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here. To submit a Call 4 Action, click here.

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