Inflation affects all consumers, but older Americans are facing an especially dramatic loss of buying power. A recent survey by the Senior Citizens League shows that Social Security benefits have seen a 36 percent loss in buying power since 2000. That number is actually an improvement from 2022, when the loss of buying power was at 40 percent.
In order for senior citizens to recapture the same buying power they had at the turn of the millennium, they would need an increase of $516 in their monthly Social Security benefits. For retirees, the average recipient benefit of $1,827 would need to increase to $2,343. They just received the largest cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in four decades, as their benefits went up 8.7 percent in 2023. The average annual increase since 2000 is 3.4 percent.
“This loss is cumulative and grows deeper as retirees age,” the Senior Citizens League stated. “It can cause significant hardships, including more rapid depletion of savings than expected, growing debt, and worse health outcomes.”
When examining seniors’ buying power, the researchers looked at the cost of 38 goods and services. Eggs topped the list of items that have seen an increase in price. The cost of a dozen eggs has increased 332 percent since 2000, from 98 cents to $4.21. Eggs doubled in price from 2022 to 2023 alone. Prescription drugs have also seen an increase of more than 300 percent since 2000.
Other items that increased in price more than 150 percent in the study period include:
- Dental services
- Heating oil
- Medicare Part B premiums
- Medical and veterinary care
With inflation leveling off from its generationally high numbers, the COLA for 2024 is expected to drop back down to about 3.1 percent.