Social Security Benefits Increasing

Social Security checks are going up. It's the largest increase in more than a quarter-century. The Social Security Administration on Thursday announced the cost-of-living increase of nearly 6 percent, affecting 50 million Americans.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

NPR's Business News starts with bigger Social Security checks. Social Security benefits are going up next year by the largest amount in more than a quarter century. The 50 million Americans receiving Social Security checks will get an increase of nearly six percent next year. NPR's Wendy Kaufman has our report.

WENDY KAUFMAN: The average retired worker will get an additional $63 a month beginning in January of 2009. Individuals receiving supplemental security income, such as the blind and the disabled, will also get bigger monthly checks. Social Security benefits contain an automatic cost of living adjustment based on a specialized consumer price index. This year, that index rose 5.8 percent. Denise Klein, who heads the non-profit Seniors Services Agency in Seattle says, many seniors will welcome the extra money.

Ms. DENISE KLEIN (CEO, Senior Service Agency, Seattle): Particularly since the Medicare premium, the basic part B premium is not going up, they're going to think it's a pretty good deal. It will certainly help offset the increased cost of food.

KAUFMAN: As recipients receive more the expense to the federal government will, of course, rise and according to the Congressional Budget Office, the latest increase could add more than $200 billion in federal spending over the next decade. One other fact worth noting, the amount of earning subject to Social Security tax will increase next year to nearly a 107,000 from 102,000. Wendy Kaufman NPR News.

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