Inflation took a major toll on the budgets and financial wellness of many older Americans in 2022, research by The Senior Citizens League shows.
The 5.9% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) received from January through December fell short of actual inflation each month by 46% on average, The Senior Citizens League's report said. The group says this drop "left the average Social Security benefit of $1,656 short by more than $42 per month and more than $508 for the year."
The Senior Citizens League added, "While Social Security recipients are looking forward to an 8.7 percent increase in Social Security benefits in January, inflation in 2022 has taken a toll on retiree budgets."
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Prices of basic goods increased sharply for older Americans
Many senior citizens saw health insurance premiums and the price of basic goods like heating oil and food rise significantly in 2022, research by The Senior Citizens League shows.
Between October 2021 and October 2022, the fastest growing costs for households with consumers ages 65 and over were home heating oil (68%), airfares (42.9%), flour and prepared mixes (24.6%), health insurance (20.6%) and natural gas (20%).
"In older households, many of the goods and services that have the most stubbornly high prices account for the biggest portion of spending," The Senior Citizens League said in its study. "Since 2020, price hikes for virtually everything pose the biggest challenge for older Americans, particularly lower-income senior households who depend on Social Security for most, or even all, of their income."
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More seniors sought public assistance in 2022
The rising prices of basic goods seemed to push many older Americans to turn to public assistance for help, The Senior Citizens League’s report said.
The group found that 33% of respondents said they applied for food stamps or visited a food pantry in the last 12 months, up from 22% in 2020.
The league also found that 17% of respondents applied for heating costs assistance in 2022, up from 10% in 2020.
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