The first COLA increase in three years is good news — but not as good as it looks at first glance. While Seniors can expect a 3.6 percent rise in their Social Security payments next year, this won’t fully cover the increase in consumer price index, which rose by 3.9 percent.

And, in fact, this 3.9 percent rise is a conservative estimate for the actual changes that have occurred in seniors’ cost of living. The items they most often spend money on, such as food and energy, have risen at much higher rates. The Department of Labor estimates that food increased at a rate of 5 percent last year, while energy costs increased by 19 percent. 

Medicare costs may also escalate this next year — just one more reason why our government needs to evaluate the COLA program to see what it’s really doing to help today’s seniors.

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