A nonprofit representing the interests of senior citizens is urging Congress to approve $1,400 stimulus checks for Social Security recipients. While these Americans are looking at possibly the largest cost-of-living adjustment in 40 years, experts say the amount they'll get likely won't match inflation and it could knock them into a higher tax bracket.
The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) said last month it expects the 2022 cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), which will be announced in October, to be 6% to 6.1%, based on consumer price data through August. If the 6.1% estimate holds once September is included, it would be the highest Social Security COLA since 1982.
According to AARP, the estimated average monthly Social Security benefit in 2021 is $1,543. With a 6.1% COLA increase, a person receiving that amount this year would see their monthly payment rise about $93 to $1,635 for 2022.
While the extra monthly money can certainly help, the investing website The Motley Fool points out that most or all of the increase will probably be wiped out by inflation costs.
In a letter to members of Congress last week, league chairman Rick Delaney said the organization has heard from tens of thousands of seniors "who have exhausted their retirement savings, who have started eating just one meal a day, started cutting their pills in half because they can’t afford their prescription drugs" due to inflation.
TSCL is also concerned the COLA bump could push some seniors into a higher tax bracket which could cause "higher tax rates on their income and surcharges to their Medicare Part B premiums," Delaney wrote.
The answer, the organization says, may be a one-time stimulus check.
"A $1,400.00 stimulus check, for Social Security recipients, could be a way to get extra non-taxable income to them," Delaney wrote.
The organization said it does not anticipate congressional action this year, but hopes to gain enough support to pressure lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Andrew Weil contributed to this report.