CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- After the Social Security Administration announced recipients will receive a 1.7 percent increase in their benefits next year, the state director of AARP said the way the cost-of-living adjustment is determined needs to be re-evaluated.
"We think even this modest increase is going to help," said Gaylene Miller. "But much of it is going to be consumed by health care and prescription costs."
Those costs aren't considered when determining the cost-of-living increase for Social Security, according to Miller.
"The kinds of thing they include ... aren't necessarily the kinds of things folks over the age of 65 are consuming on a regular basis. For example, the cost of prescription drugs is not included. The cost of utilities is not included," Miller said.
According to the Social Security Administration website, the cost-of-living adjustment is calculated by using part of the Consumer Price Index.
Including things like the price of food and gasoline when determining what would be an adequate increase would strengthen Social Security, according to Miller.
She said West Virginia has about 444,000 Social Security beneficiaries, and about one in four rely on those benefits for 90 percent of their income.
Social Security payments for retired workers average $1,237 a month, or about $14,800 a year. A 1.7 percent increase will amount to about $21 a month, or $252 a year, on average, according to The Associated Press.
Janie Hamilton, executive director of Kanawha Valley Senior Services, believes the increase will be spent before seniors even notice they've received it.