Study: Social Security payments not keeping up with price of household essentials

Study: Social Security payments not keeping up with price of household essentials

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — About 1 in 5 people and 1 in 4 families rely on Social Security benefits, but a new study shows they're not getting the same bang for their buck as they used to.

The Senior Citizens League, one of the nation's largest nonpartisan senior groups, looked at Social Security's cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs, from January 2000 to January 2019.

[ALSO READ: Cost-of-living adjustment notices for Social Security released]

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The study found COLAs went up 50%, but the cost of goods and services went up more than 100%, especially food and medical costs, particularly prescription drugs.

"It's more than just people who are disabled," said Mary Johnson, Social Security and Medicare policy analyst for The Senior Citizens League. "It includes dependents, for example, spouses.  It includes widows and that can be even younger widows with small children."

Northeast Charlotte resident Beverly Trigg is on Social Security disability.  She said it’s gone up $44 each month for her from last year to this year, but that she's paying even more every month for the basics, including food, gas and medicines.

"It's still not sufficient to cover my daily expenses and my everyday needs," she told Action 9's Jason Stoogenke. "It's a joke. It is beyond frustrating."

She said she's had to reach out to Crisis Assistance Ministry to help with her utility bills and that she's had to do a loan modification to keep her home.

"And if I did not receive help from time to time from family friends or my daughter, there's no way I would make it," she said.

The mother said she even relies on her doctors to give her samples of the medicines she can’t afford.

"I have paid into a system that mandated there were monies taken out of my paycheck every single pay period so that should I need them down the road, they would be there to help me." "Those that are in power," she said, "All of those people, they need to walk a day in my shoes."

The Senior Citizens League said the problem is the COLAs take inflation into account, but don't take older Americans' spending habits into account, and Congress is thinking of changing that.

There's a House bill with more than 200 sponsors and a similar Senate bill.  So if you want to weigh in, tell your federal lawmakers.

Read more about the study here.