Seniors have lost 31% of the buying power of their Social Security benefits since 2000, according to TSCL's 2014 Survey of Senior Costs. The findings are the same as last year; showing no improvement in the buying power of Social Security benefits, despite recent low inflation. Since 2000, the Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) has increased benefits just 41 percent while typical senior expenses jumped 84 percent, more than twice as much. Inflation has been at historic lows in recent years, and seniors received a 1.5% COLA this year.
What are the top ten fastest growing senior costs? The following chart illustrates:
Top Ten Fastest Growing Senior Costs
|Expense||Cost in 2000||Cost in 2014||Percent Increase
|Heating oil (per gallon)||$1.15||$4.02||251%|
|Gas, all grades (per gallon)||$1.31||$3.41||160%|
|Medicare, Part B premium (monthly)||$45.50||$104.90||131%|
|Homeowner's insurance (annual)||$508.00||$1,135.00||123%|
|Real estate tax (annual)||$690.00||$1,405.44||104%|
|Potatoes (per 10 pounds)||$2.98||$5.98||101%|
|Ground chuck (per pound)||$1.90||$3.59||89%|
* data collected through first week in January 2014
"To put this in perspective, for every $100 worth of expenses seniors could afford in 2000, they can afford just $69 today," says TSCL Executive Director, Shannon Benton. A senior with an average Social Security benefit in 2000 received $816 per month, a figure that rose to $1,146.80 by 2014. However, that senior would require a Social Security benefit of $1,501.40 per month in 2014 just to maintain his or her 2000 buying power.
The study examined the increase in costs of 33 key items between 2000 and January 2014. The items were chosen because they are typical of the costs seniors must bear. Of the 33 costs analyzed, 27 exceeded the amount of increase in the COLA over the same period. The selected items represent eight categories, weighted by approximate expenditure.
TSCL is fighting proposals to cut COLAs. TSCL has developed an online calculator for the public to learn how much a COLA cut would cost in Social Security income. Use the calculator today.