Seniors have lost almost one-third, or 31 percent, of their buying power since 2000, according to the Annual Survey of Senior Costs conducted by The Senior Citizens League.
Although seniors receive a small Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment each year, since 2000 it has increased benefits just 41 percent while typical senior expenses have jumped 84 percent, more than twice as fast, the organization said.
“This survey illustrates why budget proposals that would cut the growth of COLAs would put millions of older and disabled Americans at risk of insufficient income to cover more growing expenses,” said Ed Cates, chairman of The Senior Citizens League. “To put it in perspective, for every $100 worth of expenses seniors could afford in 2000, they can afford just $69 today.”
A senior with the average Social Security benefit in 2000 received $816 per month, which rose to $1,146.80 by 2014. But that senior would need a Social Security benefit of $1,501.50 a month in 2014 to still have his or her 2000 buying power, the league found.
The study examined the increase in costs of 33 key items, typical of the costs seniors face, between 2000 and January of this year. The items represented eight categories, including housing, transportation, medical and food. Of the 33 items analyzed, 27 exceeded the amount of increase in COLA over the same period.
Most of the 55 million senior or disabled Americans who receive Social Security benefits depend on them for at last half of their income, and one-third rely on them for 90 percent or more of his or her total income, the league said.
With about a million supporters, it is fighting all proposals to cut Social Security COLAs.