Starting in January, more than 65 million beneficiaries nationwide can expect a larger Social Security check.
Benefits are scheduled to increase by 8.7 percent in 2023 to adjust for inflation, according to the Social Security Administration. For retired workers, that means an average increase from $1,681 to $1,827 every month.
In the greater Tampa Bay region, the annual cost-of-living adjustment comes as aging residents have been stretched thin.
“Most seniors are on a fixed income,” nonprofit director Ann Marie Winter said. “And so they're having to make choices about: Do I fill my tank of gas to go to the doctor, or do I put food on the table for myself or my spouse?”
Winter oversees the Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas counties, where almost 390,000 residents rely on Social Security or Supplemental Security Income. Three quarters of beneficiaries are retired workers with another nearly 12 percent eligible for disability benefits.
While the 8.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment is welcome, Winter said the population her agency serves would benefit from a larger increase. The latest data show that inflation in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro surpassed the national average, with a 10.5 percent year-over-year increase in prices.
With an average increase to benefits of $140 per month, Winter said inflation means that the purchasing power for everyday goods will remain the same for beneficiaries.
“So maybe now they're going to be able to afford that cat food, that milk that they need to buy, but it's not going to put any additional money aside — or in their pocket for other necessities,” she said.
Beneficiaries will be notified about their new benefit amounts by mail in early December or can find information online at www.ssa.gov/cola.
Gabriella Paul covers the stories of people living paycheck to paycheck in the greater Tampa Bay region for WUSF. She's also a Report for America corps member. Here’s how you can share your story with her.