Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Social Security checks will be slightly bigger next year, but it may not be enough to cover costs for many seniors.
The government announced checks will grow by only 1.7 percent – one of the smallest increases in history.
Seniors, who rely on social security, are already gaining little with low interest rates from banks on their CDs and savings accounts.
“You're not getting much in the way of an increase in social security, you're getting almost nothing in interest from the banks, so it's kind of a double whammy for seniors facing the problem of where do you find the money to live on,” explained financial expert Rick Reagan.
So - just how small is the increase? The average person will be getting only $21 dollars more per month next year for a total of $1,261. A couple will get just $34 a month more. The increase is based on inflation, but because seniors spend so much of their income on healthcare and prescription costs- which outpace inflation- most of the increase will be eaten up.
“I hear frequently from folks saying we’re ready for wintertime. People are now turning on their heat and they’re like, ‘Can I afford heat? Can I afford food? Can I afford my medication? Do I need to go to the doctor for this or for that?’ And people are making tougher choices,” said Bill Armbruster, NY Associate Director of AARP.
The low rate could also affect baby boomers on the verge of retirement.
“They’re thinking, ‘What is my financial security going to be like in retirement? How long will my assets last? Can I afford to retire?’” Armbruster continued.
The outlook isn’t completely bleak. Experts say you should try reapplying for social welfare programs to see if you qualify, even if you’ve been denied in the past. AARP.org
has a benefits quick link section that will help you figure out what programs you qualify for on the state and federal levels. Also, don’t forget to check with your county’s Office for Aging for any local programs you may qualify for.