Tighten Your Belts! Prices Hurtling Skyward

Tighten Your Belts! Prices Hurtling Skyward

Housing, gasoline, food, healthcare — you name it, costs are taking some of the biggest jumps in years.  In virtually every category, prices are on the way up at the very same time seniors are least prepared to handle the jump — after two back-to-back years without any cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).

Seniors are telling The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) that they are not only tightening their belts — more now say they are going without necessities.  There’s also a growing sense of skepticism and frustration with the way our government measures inflation and calculates the annual Social Security boost. With good reason, it turns out.

TSCL’s 2011 Annual Survey of Senior Costs study indicates that medical costs continued to climb unabated over the same period that the government said inflation was too low to pay a COLA.  During third quarter 2009 and 2010, medical costs rose 6.9%, according to the Consumer Price Index for Workers, the same index used to calculate the COLA.

The chart below illustrates the dilemma between the growth in Social Security benefits and the growth in other costs.

How Your Benefit And Costs Have Grown Since 2000

Category Item 2000 2011 Percentage Change
Average Social Security Benefit   $816.00 $1,072.30 32%
Housing Homeowner’s insurance (annual) $508.00  $969.00  91%
Housing Heating oil (gallon) $1.15 $3.34 190%
Transportation All grades gas (gallon) $1.53 $3.53 131%
Medical Medicare Part B premiums (monthly) $45.50 $115.40  154%
Medical Medicare Part D premiums average weighted for enrollment $25.93 in 2006  $40.72 57%*since 2006
Food Eggs (dozen) $0.93 $1.81 95%
Food Ground chuck (pound) $1.90 $2.99 57%
Food Bread, white (loaf) $.91 $1.40 54%
Food Oranges (pound) $.61 $1.05 72%