A nonpartisan senior group is calling on Congress to distribute a fourth stimulus check meant for older Americans so that they could keep their expenses at bay amid the rising cost of living.
The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) said that next year's Social Security cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) could increase to 6.2 percent, compared to just 1.3 percent in 2021, based on the data from the Consumer Price Index. The group said that while potentially good news, the increase will likely burn into their savings or retirement benefits because their Medicare premiums and other expenses will also increase in 2022.
The organization sent out emails to members to gather their inputs about their plan to file an official petition in Congress to request a fourth stimulus check for senior citizens for $1,400. More than 100 have written back in response to the email, with some seniors sharing their stories of financial struggles.
Growing Cost of Food, Medicine, and Housing
Despite three stimulus checks in this pandemic, the seniors revealed that they had to cut down on their prescription drugs and grocery expenses and limit their food intake to one meal a day to save on money. In a survey undertaken by TSCL in August, 44 percent of the senior respondents said that their fastest-growing expenses for 2021 were food, while housing (24 percent) and medical (19 percent) took up most of their budget.
While many people might assume 6.2 percent is a blessing, Patrick Hubbard of the Center for Retirement Research in Boston said that this money is not additional income. If the COLA increases to six percent, then everything else will also be expensive.
Retirement benefits are also not protected by tax thresholds, meaning more beneficiaries could be taxed over time. Thus, senior citizens need to maintain their purchasing power by either cutting down on their necessities or getting a boost from the government.
Latest on Fourth Stimulus Check
Meanwhile, millions of Americans are still in financial distress as the Delta COVID-19 variant continues to impact jobs security, food security, and the country's general economic recovery. According to CBS News, a quarter of Americans still have trouble paying their bills and basic household expenses for August.
The unemployment rate in the U.S. has not yet dropped to pre-pandemic levels, which means that many parents are still struggling to make ends meet despite the funding boosts from the government, including the child tax credit for parents. After Labor Day, 9.1 million Americans also lost their emergency unemployment benefits, adding to the burden of sourcing money for basic expenses like food and rent.
In early 2021, a petition on Change.Org received over 2.8 million signatures asking lawmakers to pass a new law for $2,000 monthly federal stimulus checks until the pandemic is over. Some Democratic senators support the petition, saying that the previous stimulus checks could not last for three months for 6 in 10 Americans.
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