More than 58 million retirees and disabled Americans will get no increase in Social Security benefits next year, the second year in a row without a raise.
The Social Security Administration said in announcing the policy
Friday that inflation has been too low since the last increase in
2009 to warrant an increase for 2011. The announcement marks only
the second year without an increase since automatic adjustments for
inflation were adopted in 1975. The first year was this year.
The cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs, are automatically set
each year by an inflation measure that was adopted by Congress back
in the 1970s.
To make up for the lack of a COLA, the House will vote in
November - after congressional elections - on a bill to provide
$250 payments to Social Security recipients, House Speaker Nancy
Pelosi said. But even if Pelosi can get the House to pass the
proposal, it faces opposition in the Senate.
The absence of inflation will be of small comfort to many older
Americans whose savings and home values still haven't recovered
from the recession. Many haven't had a raise since January 2009,
and they won't be getting one until at least January 2012. And the
timing couldn't be worse for Democrats as they approach an election
in which they are in danger of losing their House majority and
possibly their Senate majority as well.
"We're a little bit upset because our bills are going up and
our Social Security isn't," said Betty Dizik of Tamarac, Fla., a
retired tax preparer and social worker.
Dizik, 83, said her only source of income is a $1,200 monthly
payment from Social Security.
"I'm like a lot of other people in my predicament who live on
Social Security," Dizik said. "It's hard. We cannot make ends
Claire Edelman of Monroe Township, N.J., said she was so hard up
that at the age of 83 she applied for a temporary job as a census
taker for the 2010 Census. She didn't get the job, so she gets by
on a small pension from her job with the state and her monthly
Social Security payment of $1,060.
"I just hope there is some way to reconsider that decision (on
the COLA) because it is going to affect so many people," Edelman
said. "I can't understand why the Congress hasn't seen that
there's been an increase in everything."
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)