(Washington, DC) Gift certificates for home-heating oil are likely to be among the most appreciated gift you can give this holiday, says The Senior Citizens League. “That’s because it will cost many Americans roughly 26 percent more to fill their home-heating fuel tanks this winter than last,” says The Senior Citizens League’s Social Security policy analyst Mary Johnson. “For people who rely on Social Security benefits, this will be a particularly challenging expense, since Social Security benefits are only increasing 2.8 percent in 2019,” she explains.
Earlier this fall, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projected that home-heating fuels would cost about 20 percent more during the upcoming heating season, but the most recent Consumer Price Index data from October 2017 through October 2018, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, indicates that heating-fuel costs appear to be climbing even faster and are now 26.2 percent higher than October 2017.
Research conducted by Johnson for The Senior Citizens League has found that Social Security benefits have lost 34 percent of their buying power since 2000 because the index used to calculate the annual cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) increase doesn’t adequately factor in the cost increases experienced by retirees. In 2000, for example, it cost $575 to fill up a 500-gallon home-heating oil tank. The average benefit amount in 2000 was $816, leaving older homeowners with $241 to put toward other household expenses. Today, it costs about $1,640 to fill the same oil tank, but those who received benefits of $816 in 2000 only receive $1,193.10 in 2018. “That leaves older consumers digging into savings or borrowing to make up the difference of $446.90,” Johnson says. “The Social Security loss of buying power for 2018–2019 appears likely to continue to get worse.”
Johnson compiled a list of ten of the fastest-rising retiree costs based on Consumer Price Index data from October 2017 through October 2018.
The Senior Citizens League supports legislation that would provide a more fair and adequate COLA so that seniors living on fixed incomes can better afford rising costs like home heating oil. To learn more, visit www.SeniorsLeague.org.
With 1.2 million supporters, The Senior Citizens League is one of the nation’s largest nonpartisan seniors groups. Its mission is to promote and assist members and supporters, to educate and alert senior citizens about their rights and freedoms as U.S. Citizens, and to protect and defend the benefits senior citizens have earned and paid for. The Senior Citizens League is a proud affiliate of The Retired Enlisted Association. Visit www.SeniorsLeague.org for more information.