Social Security Benefits Rising 1.5 Percent in 2014

Social Security Benefits Rising 1.5 Percent in 2014
Photo (cc) by 401(K) 2013

Don’t spend it all in one place.

Next year, Social Security recipients will get an average of $19 more per month, for a benefit of $1,294, CNNMoney says. That’s an increase of 1.5 percent, and one of the smallest on record. It’s less than half the 3.6 percent increase seen in 2012.

It’s so low because the increase is based on the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers from the third quarter of the last year to the third quarter of this year. Inflation has remained low.

But, as we explain every year, prices on certain goods and services rise much faster than the overall rate of inflation. One of those, key for seniors, is health care. “Government figures show the cost of medical care rising twice as fast as other prices, up 2.4 percent over the past year,” CNNMoney says.

And while a 7.5 percent decline in gas prices helped keep the overall inflation rate low, that’s not necessarily something that helps seniors, CNNMoney says. Many no longer have a work commute, and may use cars less.

Worse news: Social Security increases may not improve much if the federal government switches to a new method of calculating the cost of living. By using chained CPI, which accounts for changing spending habits in the Consumer Price Index, benefits would grow at a slower rate than with the current CPI calculation, CNNMoney says.

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