Retirees feel the impact as Social Security checks fell last year: report

America’s seniors and retirement community may feel additional financial pressures in recent months as there was a significant shortfall in their Social Security payments last year.

According to the nonpartisan Senior Citizens Association, there was a sharp increase in the cost of living in 2022, and inflation-adjusted payments to Social Security recipients fell that same year. This resulted in a 46% gap in the monthly benefit checks received by 70 million Americans.

The organization reports that Social Security recipients received a cost-of-living (COLA) adjustment of 5.9% last January, which saw the average benefit check increase by $92.30, from $1,564 in 2021 to $1,656.30 for 2022.

However, the association reported that an inflation adjustment of 5.9% fell short of the actual inflation figure each month by 46% on average.

The record-high cost-of-living Social Security checks for 2023 are set to arrive this week

US Treasury Department logo

FILE – Blank Social Security checks are run through a printer at the US Treasury Department’s printing facility on February 11, 2005 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (William Thomas Kane/Getty Images/Getty Images)

This calculated discrepancy caused the average Social Security check to fall by more than $42 per month and more than $508 for 2022, according to their report.

“While Social Security recipients look forward to an 8.7% increase in Social Security benefits in January, inflation in 2022 weighed on retiree budgets,” the association said in a statement. “Many retirees have been forced to spend through savings much more quickly than planned, and those without savings have turned to pantries and low-income assistance programs in greater numbers.”

The inflation-adjusted rate was calculated using the 2021 figures, according to the Consumer Price Index.

The annual inflation rate for 2021 was 7%, but an adjustment for Social Security benefits is calculated based on the change in the third-quarter reporting Consumer Price Index for urban wage earners and clerical workers (CPI-W).

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The third quarter runs from July 1 through September 30.

In the third quarter of 2021, the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W) increased by 5.9%. That rate jumped by the end of the fourth quarter to 7.4%, keeping seniors short even before the start of 2022.

Going forward into 2023, these prices have been revised again.

social security card

FILE – In this photo illustration, a Social Security card sits alongside checks from the United States Department of the Treasury on October 14, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Kevin Deitch/Getty Images/Getty Images)

As of January 2023, Social Security benefits have increased by 8.7% or about $140, increasing the average check to nearly $1,800.

This increase was accounted for again by inflation rates for the third quarter: inflation reached 7.1% by November, down from a staggering 9.8% in June.

Federal agencies expect 2022 to end with an annual inflation rate of between 7% and 8.01%.

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A couple walking

An elderly couple walks down a street in Alhambra, California, February 4, 2020. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images/Getty Images)

While seniors look to increase their Social Security payments in 2023, many still struggle with the 2022 shortfall between inflation and Social Security payments.

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The Senior Citizens Association reported that 33% of seniors applied for food stamps or visited a food pantry this year, compared to 22% last year, and 17% applied for help with heating costs, compared to 10% last year, according to A recent study.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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