The Social Security Administration announced in mid-October that Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) for 58 million Americans on social security will not increase in 2011 nor will supplemental security income benefits (SSIs).
“All the utilities, everything is going up, and now they’re trying to fix insurance. You can’t afford all this stuff living on a fixed income,” said Cleo Ray, 82, of Calhoun.
“Everybody is disappointed,” she said of the decision to maintain the current monthly allowance for seniors on social security.
Ray lives alone on a mere $1,117 a month. “I’m really worried,” she said.
The legislation for COLA was enacted in 1973 to allow social security and SSI benefits to keep up with the rate of inflation, according to the Social Security Administration’s website.
“It’s a disappointing thing, but I understand where they are coming from,” said John W. Russell, 85, of Calhoun.
Before retiring almost 20 years ago, Russell was a manager at Shanahan Insurance Agency in Calhoun.
“I’m just having to adjust, and I have to do without things I don’t actually need,” he said. “So far, I’ve been able to cope pretty good, but I don’t know what the future might hold.”
Earnest Swearengin, 66, of Calhoun, and his wife, Sally, raise three grandchildren on their social security benefits, he said.
“Everything is going alright with no problems,” he said. “You make due with what you have.”
According to the website for the SSA, COLAs are calculated based on the percentage increase in the average Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). The average CPI-W for the third quarter of the current year (2010) is measured against the average CPI-W for the third quarter of the last year COLAs were awarded (2008).
In this case, the CPI-W for the third quarter of 2010 showed no increase above the third quarter CPI-W in 2008; therefore, COLAs were not awarded for 2011.
The Federal, monthly maximum pay-out for SSI benefits for 2011 is $674 for an eligible individual and $1,011 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse, according to the website.
“I don’t know what senior citizens are going to do,” said Ray. “People are going to have to live tight to be able to make it.”