BUFFALO, NY — Social Security’s cost of living adjustment, or COLA, is expected to be higher this year.
“I’m sure a lot of people have been affected by the rise in grocery prices, and so to counter that, that’s where the government stepped in and said, ‘we’re going to be able to support you a bit more in increasing your monthly benefits,” said Genevieve Waterman, director of economic and financial security for the National Council on Aging.
The COLA for 2023 is estimated at around 8.7%. The official percentage increase will be announced on Thursday. Waterman says it’s a big leap from previous years.
“Because it used to be, you know, maybe 1-2% at most to reflect current inflation,” Waterman said. “So that’s the best we’ve received to be able to kind of reflect that inflation adjustment.”
The expected increases have given the seniors at the YMCA’s SilverSneakers yoga class something to celebrate. Buffalo’s Dr. Marsha Jackson retired a year and a half ago and says the past few months have been tough living on a fixed income during inflation.
“I recently adopted two daughters, so you know it wasn’t just about me and social security, it was about my daughters getting the benefits they needed as well,” said Jackson.
She says the money doesn’t go as far as it used to, so people had to make tough decisions. She says she wants to make sure her money goes as far as possible.
Callie Jones says one thing that’s changing for her is clothes shopping.
“I don’t shop like that now like I used to because I use it for food and medicine,” Jones said.
Jones was surprised when she heard the estimated COLA percentage increase.
“I looked surprised because we haven’t received it yet. Are we really going to get it? When?” she says.
Waterman says that for some people the COLA increase could make a big dent, but for others it may just enough to meet their needs.
“We really hope that with the increase in social security, they will be able to afford the basic necessities, but for many older people who live on a fixed income, they are not able to meet their basic needs. , regardless of the increase in COLA,” Waterman said.
Jackson believes the raise will make a difference.
“Right now I know a lot of people who are on Social Security who are hurting and I feel bad for some of them,” Jackson said. “Maybe they didn’t have the best of jobs, but they had jobs and they deserve to live above the poverty line.
The NCOA has a tool to help people find the benefits they may be entitled to.
The YMCA has a Access for All Program in which the organization raises money for people who can’t pay, so they can attend classes like the SilverSneakers Yoga class.