Social Security Benefits Rise 2.3 Percent Next Year

Millions of Americans will get a slight increase in Social Security benefits next year after the government agreed to an adjustment for the cost of living.

The Social Security Administration said Wednesday that some 50 million people will get an increase in January of up to 2.3 percent – the smallest increase in four years.

Still, the hike will add $24 per month to the average Social Security check.

The cost of living adjustment means that the monthly benefit for the typical retired worker in 2008 will go from $1,055 currently to $1,079 next year.

Nearly 50 million Americans receive Social Security benefits.

The 2.3 percent increase is the smallest since a 2.1 percent rise in 2004. It compares with an increase of 3.3 percent last year and a jump of 4.1 percent in 2006 — the increase in 15 years.

The cost of living adjustment is based on the change in consumer prices in the third quarter compared with the same period a year ago. Benefit payments have been tied to inflation since 1975.

Advocacy groups for the elderly said that the small increase underscored the need to revamp the adjustment for cost of living to better reflect prices paid by retired people, including the money they spend on health care.

The Senior Citizens League maintains that in eight key spending areas, people over the age of 65 have lost 40 percent of their purchasing power since 2000, reflecting such factors as a doubling in the price of gasoline and home heating oil over that period.

From NPR reports and The Associated Press

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