Seniors tighten their belts

Thursday, September 3, 2009

According to the trustees who oversee Social Security, seniors will not receive a cost-of-living adjustment on benefits next year. Due to an increase in Medicare prescription drug program premiums, which are often deducted from benefits checks, area seniors could actually see a decrease in their Social Security benefits next year.

"It's not going to be easy," said Naomi Marbut, of Cassville. "If they did not raise everything else it wouldn't be so bad, but everything else will go up."

Compounding the issue further is the recent slide in the stock market, which has impacted many seniors' investments.

"A lot of us have investments that are not secure now," said Vivian Kinsel, of Cassville. "We will just have to start cutting things out. If we can't afford it, we will do without it."

Even though the absence of a cost-of-living adjustment will force them to make tough financial decisions, most local seniors agree that they are fortunate to have experience dealing with economic troubles.

"We have been through bad times before, so we know what to do," said Marbut. "We have learned how to do without."

As they weather the economic storm, area seniors are keeping a close eye on the recent debates on healthcare. Although many seniors would like to see an improvement in the healthcare system, they are not sure if lawmakers are currently on the right track.

"I have mixed feelings about the whole thing," said Kinsel. "I don't know what to expect. We can't afford to pay any extra for our insurance."

Area seniors would like to see more information on the issue and how it could potentially impact their current health insurance coverage, said Ruby Miller, of Cassville.

"We don't know what to believe and what not to believe right now," said Miller, "but I believe it is to premature to worry about."

Kinsel agrees that seniors will just have to wait and see how they are impacted.

"Why should we worry?" asked Kinsel. "We just have to let the good Lord take care of it."

As area seniors wait for the outcome of the healthcare debate, they are taking fiscally responsible measures to lower their living costs, said Shawna Sutphin, Cassville Senior Center assistant administrator.

"One woman who comes here told me that she read in the Joplin paper that propane was at an all-time low right now, so she called to fill up her tank," said Sutphin. "She made the comment to me that she is not getting a raise in Social Security benefits this year, so she had to do something to make up the difference."

Sutphin said that she expects to see an increase in the number of seniors who visit the center for meals or request meals be delivered to their homes. This could put more pressure on a program that was in danger of losing over $2 million in state funding this year. Although the program received $1.92 million in stimulus funding, those monies will only fund the program through 2010.

"At that point our funding will be up in the air again," said Sutphin. "We also always have a struggle finding drivers. I can see us continuing to struggle with that if we have more people requesting meals."

Social Security cost-of-living adjustments are directly related to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Due to the fact that the CPI did not increase this year, Social Security benefits will not receive a cost of living adjustment for 2010.

Next year, will be the first year that there has not been an increase in benefits since the automatic cost-of-living adjustment increases were adopted in 1975.

View 2 comments
Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. Please note that those who post comments on this website may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.
  • i think they keep taking are cost of living raise and keep raiseing prices on everything else ,i think they need to realize we live on a very small amount of money and we are verly surviveing getting food and bills paid,some like me have to let some bills wait to be able to feed are children,i understan we all need our insurance but the last few years there are more and more companies that are going to lower coverage on health care even for thier employees why don't they try getting the cost to a doctors office visit lowered it now cost over a huindred dollars to have anything done in the doctors office and the prices to get medical treatment is very high,why do you think allot of people put off going till they have to ,,prices on grocery ,gas,clothes ,electric bills and all now they are taking more from us for medical cost will there even be anything left by the time they get done takeing we are struggling now with out them takeing anything,i hate to be the one to step up and say it but we work some of us all our lives to retire and find out we get to go from 2000 a month to 643.00 a month and let me tell you it does not seem to be getting any better..when will the goverment decide that they need to do some work on the senior citizens and the disableds income and get us a raise that we all desperately need they raised everything else just no help for us the ones who seem to be the ones who once fought with their lives to save this country and who work just like all the rest of you ,but now we can't and we are cast out as those who are of no use for some reason no one can tell us why they can give us a cost of living raise and then take it a way and raise the prices on everything else and every one get what to keep up with the high prices not a raise yeah we will get a raise but then they pull it for medicaid or a prescription plan or they take it back from the little food stamps we recieve if we are lucky to recieve any in the first place,,i think that all the people in the offices that make these decisions should live on 643.00 for a few month let them pay thier bills on that then tell us how you feel...

    -- Posted by alonewolf67 on Wed, Sep 9, 2009, at 12:45 AM
  • We all deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. How respectful is it to watch our disabled and elderly slowly die from lack of medical-care, medications, food and adequate shelter from the elements? The latest social answer seems to be not to watch, not to care and to hope they 'go away.' That is the reality of what is happening across the country. Hunger and neglect. The weakest in our society are the targets of all con-artists be they in Government or trying to sell them aluminum siding. Law enforcement doesn't protect them...they just want those who need help the most to 'go away' too. It's not easy to stand-up against the demigods I've encountered at the Cassville DSS office. Lacking honesty and any form of ethics some of them seem to delight in causing pain and suffering to others. I think starting off with an increase in food stamps without punishment by denial of funds to pay for housing/utilities and without having to pay more for Medicare would be the right thing to do. The people in Barry County wouldn't have to watch this enforced, slow starvation of the needy. If more spoke up like this amazing man (alonewold67,) maybe something will actually happen.

    -- Posted by Wild Horses on Wed, Sep 9, 2009, at 10:08 AM
Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: