For most Americans who received the three stimulus checks that went out, it seems pretty unlikely that they will get a fourth, however that may not be the case for everyone. A group of 70 million people receiving Social Security benefits could quite possibly receive one more direct payment. The chairman, Rick Delaney from the Senior Citizens League sent a very compelling letter to Congressional leaders explaining the reasons why it is crucial to send out a $1,400 emergency stimulus check to those who rely on Social Security, especially seniors. The letter states, "We've heard from thousands of seniors who have exhausted their retirement savings, who have started eating just one meal a day, stated cutting their pills in half because they can't afford their prescription drugs, to list just a few of the drastic steps so many have had to take because of what inflation has done to them this year. Many have written to us that 'our government has forgotten about us.
Although Social Security checks will actually see their largest cost-of-living increase in 39 years, going up 5.9% in 2022, rising costs due to inflation will surely offset this boost in benefits, leaving seniors to continue struggling financially. As a result, a public petition calling for signatures to support the campaign was started in order to push Congress to approve a fourth stimulus check. You can find the link for that petition in the description. Even with all the current efforts being driven by the Seniors’ Citizen’s League, it is highly unlikely for anyone, including those on Social Security, to see any kind of direct payment this year as Congress continues hashing out other issues like the Federal debt ceiling and infrastructure bill. However, it does seem a lot more likely to be delayed until next year, especially with the need for Congress to prioritize other major issues like the debt ceiling. Regardless, millions of Americans, including those who rely on Social Security, are having trouble making ends meet and need the government to take action sooner rather than later.
About 50% of seniors rely on Social Security benefits for at least half their income, and about 25% rely on these benefits for their entire earnings. Thankfully, we do have some good news for seniors to look forward to in 2022, including programs offering benefits to assist low-income seniors like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP). SNAP enrollment was associated with a decrease in inpatient hospitalizations, emergency department visits, long-term care admissions, as well as fewer dollars in Medicaid payments per person per year. Individuals 65 and older who are living alone with a net monthly income of $1,915 can receive benefits. A two-person household with an elderly or disabled person and an annual income of $31,020 also qualifies for benefits. We also have the annual cost of living adjustment that was locked in on October 13th, which will effectively increase Social Security checks by 5.9% beginning in January. In previous years, the average increase was much lower. In 2021, the 1.3% increase brought retired beneficiaries an average of $20 more on their monthly premium.
Average wages are also on the rise, prompting the department to increase the maximum earnings subject to the Social Security tax to $147,000, up from roughly $142,000.The social security tax rate will remain the same in 2022 at 6.2% for employees and 12.4% for those who are self-employed. President Joe Biden campaigned on raising the Social Security income tax threshold to a maximum of $400,000, which would generate an additional $700 billion in revenue over ten years. This extra revenue would hopefully then have the benefit of replenishing the trust fund reserves, which were recently reported to be set to run out by 2033.