New cost of living adjustment for Social Security beneficiaries

New cost of living adjustment for Social Security beneficiaries

EUGENE, Ore. -- The annual cost of living adjustment for social security recipients increased 1.5 percent for 2014, the Social Security Administration announced Wednesday.

The good news: some who receive federal benefits will see an increase in their checks.

The bad news: it’s not very much.

The increase is far from the average increase of 4 percent the nation has seen since 1975, and the average social security recipient will see an increase of just under $20 a month.  

The benefits are figured from the cost-of-living adjustment, an annual figure based on a government measure of consumer price index.

Since 1975, Social Security benefits have been based on cost of living increases. If prices for things like housing, clothing, energy and more increase, the cost of living adjustment will as well. Since benefits became reliant on the COLA, the annual increase has only been under 2% 7 times.

The adjustment also affects disabled veteran’s benefits, and those who qualify for Supplemental Security Income.

Some Eugene residents we spoke with who rely on Social Security say the small increase isn’t going to help their budget woes.  

James Rowden injured his back, and can’t work. He tells KMTR news he doesn’t think the increase is enough.

“19 bucks ain’t even, it’s an insult,” Rowden said. “We’re on a fixed income Social Security, you know. I have to have surgery, until then I can’t work.”

An income he says isn’t enough to afford housing; he and his family are currently living in ShelterCare.

“To try to rent a place with that kind of income, you’re not going to do it unless you have some sort of subsidized housing,” Rowden adds.

James isn’t the only one who feels like the increase isn’t enough. Vietnam Veteran Andrew Maynard says his budget is extremely tight, and a few extra dollars won’t change that.

 “It’s a drop in the bucket,” said Maynard. “It really isn’t going to make a big difference. We need to see something substantial.”

Roderick Wilson says he relies on his Social Security checks to get by, but adds that he can’t always make ends meet.

 “It leaves enough for bills, nothing else,” remarks Wilson.

 But while Rowden and Maynard say the small increase isn’t enough to make a difference in their budgets, Wilson disagrees.

 

 “Every little bit helps,” said Wilson. “If you find a quarter, it’s good. I’m sure I could find a place for it.”