Your Social Security check could go up to $175 next year. Is that enough?

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How much money can Social Security recipients receive?

Monthly benefits for retirees could increase by 10.5% in 2023, according to a recent analysis by The Senior Citizens League, a non-partisan senior citizens’ group. That would equate to a $175.10 increase in the average payment of $1,668.

Meanwhile, the nonprofit Committee on Responsible Federal Budgeting reports that benefit increases for seniors could actually be as much as 11.4% if inflation stays at its current peak.

Of course, these are only estimates for the time being. The actual increase will depend on the rate at which prices increase in the coming months.

Get help with health insurance, prescription costs

Whatever the exact COLA number, the extra cash may still not be enough to recover your budget from inflation.

Fortunately, there are many resources struggling retirees can turn to. These are some of them.

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High health insurance and prescription costs can severely impact retirees’ incomes.

Some may be eligible for assistance with their monthly premiums under the Medicare savings program, said Caitlin Donovan, a spokeswoman for the National Patient Advocate Foundation, a nonprofit that helps patients access and pay for health care.

“If you qualify, your premiums, deductibles and co-payments will be covered, which would be a tremendous financial relief for anyone,” Donovan said.

Additionally, those enrolled in Medicare Part D, which covers prescriptions, should check if they are eligible for additional help. This program can reduce the cost of your medication. The benefit can be worth more than $5,000 a year, Donovan said.

There are also a number of charities that support seniors with their healthcare costs. For example, on Copays.org you can request funds to use for co-payments, premiums, deductibles, and over-the-counter medications.

The National Patient Advocate Foundation has a financial resource directory where you can search for local help for everything from dental care to end-of-life services.

Many retirees are entitled to food benefits

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Experts say many older people are not taking advantage of all the food aid available to them. For example, a 2015 study found that fewer than half of eligible seniors participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

“There is a lot of misconception about the program and a lot of stigma, and unfortunately that gets in the way of people seeking help,” said Josh Protas, vice president of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger.

However, the extra money can go a long way for retirees on fixed incomes. The maximum monthly benefit for a one-person household is $250. Grocery stores, online retailers and farmers’ markets are accepting the funds.

SNAP has rules about how much assets you can own and earn to get the help, and Social Security checks will be honored. Still, certain expenses, including your rent and childcare costs, can be deducted, and experts say anyone who suspects they might qualify should apply.

The US Department of Agriculture also has the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, under which certain low-income people over the age of 60 are eligible for a monthly grocery package that includes fruits, vegetables, cheese and more.

Meanwhile, retirees covered by a Medicaid health plan may be eligible for free groceries through Mom’s Meals. Some Medicare Advantage health plans also offer meal services as part of the program for people who have recently been discharged from a hospital or who have a chronic illness.

Meals are typically delivered every two to three weeks and include dishes like Salisbury steak, pasta and meatballs, and sweet and sour chicken. People can tell the program about allergies, and they accommodate diets that are appropriate for both vegetarians and those with certain medical conditions, such as cancer or diabetes.

A Mom’s Meals spokesperson recommended seniors who think they might qualify for the free meals contact a Medicaid or Medicare representative.

Seniors can unlock thousands of resources

While you must have an extremely low income to qualify, some retirees are eligible for the Supplemental Security Income program, a means-tested program for people over age 65 or with a disability.

Last December, more than 2.5 million people received both Social Security and the supplement, which can be as much as $841 a month for one person. You can apply on the Social Security Administration website or by calling 1-800-325-0778.

For further help, the National Council on Aging offers a “Senior Check-up” website where you can learn about more than 2,000 resources available to seniors with problems by zip code.

The council has also released a guide called You Gave, Now Save, which provides information on the most generous benefits available to help older people with expenses like their phone bills and property taxes.

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/07/21/your-social-security-check-could-jump-175-next-year-is-that-enough-.html Your Social Security check could go up to $175 next year. Is that enough?

Drew Weisholtz

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