Social Security Update! | SSI Stimulus Check Date Direct Express 2022?

The third round of stimulus checks saw more than 169 million payments sent out to eligible Americans, and today we continue to see supporters pushing for a fourth as inflation continues to bite. Back in January, the threat of the more contagious covid-19 variant, Omicron, had the result of spooking the markets and creating a new wave of illness. Today, we see another slight upward trend in the 7 day moving average in cases, according to the CDC, begging the question of where is our support for seniors, and those living on Social Security, SSI, or SSDI.

In early January, the United States surpassed one million covid-19 cases in a single day for the first time, and then went on to beat that record in each of the three following days. With individuals forced to self-isolate after a positive test there is concern that millions could have their livelihood threatened. The non-partisan advocacy group Senior Citizens League has called on Congress to send those receiving Social Security additional stimulus money. In a letter, the Senior’s Citizen’s League Chairman Rick Delaney implored leaders in Congress to approve a one-off $1,400 Social Security stimulus payment for seniors. The Omicron crisis came at the same time as high levels of inflation in the American economy had seen prices soar across the country, not to mention the sudden sharp rise in gas prices.

As a result, those on a fixed income like Social Security are seeing rapid decreases in their purchasing power. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that since October 2020, consumers are paying on average 6.2 percent more across the market. Meanwhile, prices for food are up 5.3 percent. The campaign began before the announcement of the 5.9 percent COLA increase, but has continued after reports from thousands of seniors said they were experiencing extreme financial hardship as prices began to trend upward. Many have expressed a feeling of abandonment from the government telling the Senior’s Citizen’s League “our government has forgotten about us.” Researchers with the Senior’s Citizen’s League have found that costs for seniors have far outpaced the COLA increase. While over the last twenty-one years, "COLAs have raised Social Security benefits by 55 percent," the costs for housing and healthcare increased 118 and 145 percent, respectively.

On Friday November 19th, the House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act. And while it does not include a stimulus check for those on Social Security, it does include some benefits for seniors. These include the expansion of Medicare to include hearing services, and provisions that will grant the government power to negotiate a limited about of drug prices with pharmaceutical companies each year. The Center on Medicare and Medicaid announced a 14.5 percent increase in the price of the Medicare Part B premium which is subtracted from a Social Security beneficiary's check each month. From 2020 to 2021, the price only increased two percent, showing the impact that inflation is having on the healthcare market.

After the increase was announced, Mary Johnson, a Social Security and Medicare policy analyst urged leaders to take action and warned that “The Part B increase from $148.50 to $170.10 per month is the highest since 2016 and will consume the entire annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) of Social Security recipients with the very lowest benefits, of about $365 per month." So as you can see, there’s a lot good legislation that Senators Ron Wyden and other Senators tried to push, but were unsuccessful in getting it carried forth into the American Rescue Plan. With people like Joe Manchin pushing back on the cost of the bill already, there were tons of good provisions that unfortunately got stripped out as a result of that conflict. Now that’s not to say a new bill could be proposed soon that issues folks on Social Security a boost in the form of a stimulus, or maybe a tax credit or a monthly boost. I will remain optimistic for all of us that we do catch a well-deserved break soon. Especially after what seniors have already been through during this pandemic.

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