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Oct 15, 2015 11:03 AM

Government: No benefit rise for Social Security next year


WASHINGTON — The government says there will be no benefit increase next year for millions of Social Security recipients, disabled veterans and federal retirees.

It's just the third time in 40 years that benefits will remain flat. All three times have come since 2010.

The main reason for no increase next year is low gas prices.

By law, the annual cost-of-living adjustment — or COLA — is based on a government measure of inflation. The government said Thursday that inflation is being pulled down by lower gasoline prices.

The announcement will affect benefits for more than 70 million people — that's more than one-fifth of the nation's population.

The total includes almost 60 million retirees, disabled workers, spouses and children who get Social Security benefits.

Advocates for seniors say years of small increases or no increase are eroding the buying power of benefits, regardless of the official inflation numbers.

In a letter to members of Congress, the executive vice president of AARP argues that the inflation index reflects the spending patterns of workers -- who tend to be younger and healthier than most people on Social Security.

Nancy LeaMond writes, "Social Security recipients spend more of their monthly budget on health care, food and housing than do younger workers."


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