Seniors take Social Security freeze

Published 9:51 am Thursday, October 21, 2010

Orlie Grant and Virgil Stone discuss the Social Security freeze while waiting for lunch at the Senior Center Wednesday.Amanda Lillie/

The two-year federal Social Security freeze has some local senior citizens concerned about what it could mean for their pocket books.

The federal government announced last week that Social Security beneficiaries will not receive a cost of living increase in 2011. The announcement affects over 58 million Social Security recipients who will now have to wait yet another year for their checks to increase.

See the Friday edition of the Austin Daily Herald for a guide to senior living.

“It’s not a good thing of course,” Orlie Grant of Austin said. “So many (prices) are going up, so we have less money to spend each month.”

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Virgil Stone, a frequenter of the Senior Center, sympathized with Grant.

“This affects everything,” Stone said. “When you don’t get money, you don’t spend it.”

Democrats in the U.S. Congress plan to propose a one-time $250 check for Social Security recipients in lieu of the cost of living increase.

Evie Anderson of the Senior Center said she doesn’t think the one-time payment is necessary, though.

“I think they can find a better place to put that money,” Anderson said. “But there are some people on Social Security who might really need it.”

Cost of living adjustments are automatically set by a measure adopted by Congress in the 1970s that orders raises based on the Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation. Social Security benefits will remain unchanged as long as consumer prices remain below the level they were at in 2008, the last time a cost of living increase was awarded.

Grant said the freeze has affected her since the last increase, although not necessarily in detrimental ways.

“Sure it does effect you,” she said. “You have to just live a little differently.”

Even though the Social Security situation is causing many seniors to rethink their budgets, Anderson said she hasn’t heard many people discussing the freeze or complaining about it.

“There’s no point in complaining about it,” Anderson said. “There’s nothing we can do.”

Associated Press contributed to this report.