Social Security checks to rise 5.9%, biggest jump in 39 years

HOLMEN, Wis. (WKBT) — Millions of retirees will get a 5.9% increase in Social Security benefits next year, the highest bump since 1982.

A quarter of senior Social Security recipients rely on their monthly check for all, or nearly all, of their income. About half live in households where it provides at least 50% of their income.

“Well, I’ll tell you, without it, it’d be pretty rough. Pretty rough. Because it’s the majority of my income,” said recipient Jim Nowak.

This jump in payments follows a burst in inflation as the cost of living increased.

“A lot of this increase is due to the pandemic, with the extra costs associated with the pandemic,” said Tina Johnson, an elder benefits specialist at the La Crosse County Aging and Disability Resource Center.

And the Social Security Administration has to react accordingly. The increase puts $92 more a month in an individual’s pocket.

“Approximately $92 a month in their pocket. So, the $92 would be based off the average benefit, so that is exciting. A lot of times, the increases are very minimal,” Johnson said.

For individuals, this amounts to about $1,657. The average payment to a couple will be $2,753 a month.

For retirees like Nowak, programs like the senior nutrition program in La Crosse County are essential.

“We pay our little share for our meals, but we don’t have to. And I know there are some who come that can’t– so this is a godsend for a whole lot of people,” Nowak said.

Social Security recipients are still awaiting a Medicare premium announcement, Johnson said.

“I think it is hard to get really get too excited for seniors about that cost of living, because there’s that fear that it’s going to decrease because of something else,” Johnson said.

For now, seniors are celebrating the boost.

“The price of fuel goes up, the price of food goes up, rent goes up, taxes go up … without it, we’d be in trouble.”

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