Inflation is hurting some communities hard as the pandemic evolves and despite more than 169 million payments having been sent out in the third round of stimulus checks, there is a continued push for a targeted fourth one. The new covid-19 variant of Omicron had financial markets very worried at first, with a rapid transmission rate, but early studies have calmed them a little as illness, on the whole, appears to be less severe.
The Omicron variant is spreading fast around the US. This has given a boost to the prospect of further stimulus checks as the risk of great economic trouble lies ahead. Nancy Pelosi made overtures in an interview on Sunday that further stimulus relief could be included in future bills.
How likely is a fourth stimulus check for SS beneficiaries?
The Senior Citizens League (TSCL), a non-partisan advocacy group, started a pressure campaign to push Congress to send those receiving Social Security additional stimulus money. In a letter to leaders of Congress, TSCL Chairman Rick Delaney called for a one-off $1,400 Social Security stimulus payment for seniors. Such a measure could help defray the costs associated for some seniors from the 2022 cost-of-living adjustment, which was the highest in 40 years, pushing them into a higher tax bracket.
This is all in reaction to the high levels of inflation that the American economy is dealing with. Prices across the country are reaching record highs, and for those on a fixed income like Social Security, they are seeing rapid decreases in their purchasing power. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that since October 2020, consumers are paying on average 6.2 percent more across the market. Prices for food are up 5.3 percent, while energy costs are up more than thirty.
What seniors have received at the start of 2021 ius the new COLA increase. What this means is that social security payments are being increased by 5.9 percent. However, inflation is already running higher than this value, putting recipients at a disadvantage. Data shows that inflation grew at its fastest 12-month pace in nearly 40 years during the month of December. It showed a 7% jump from a year earlier, far above the 5.9% COLA increase.
How is the inflation rate already biting seniors?
The Center on Medicare and Medicaid announced a 14.5 percent increase in the price of the Medicare Part B premium which is subtracted from a Social Security beneficiary's check each month. From 2020 to 2021, the price only increased two percent, showing the impact that inflation is having on the healthcare market.
After the increase was announced, Mary Johnson, a Social Security and Medicare policy analyst urged leaders to take action and warned that “The Part B increase from $148.50 to $170.10 per month is the highest since 2016 and will consume the entire annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) of Social Security recipients with the very lowest benefits, of about $365 per month."