CHARLESTON, W.Va. — About 475,000 West Virginians on Social Security will get a nearly six percent boost in benefits beginning in 2022.
The Social Security Administration announced Wednesday the largest increase in four decades for cost-of-living adjustment payments, also known as COLA.
“More than 35 percent rely on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their household income,” said Tom Hunter, associate state director of AARP West Virginia. “A 6 percent increase in that monthly check is a huge benefit to help West Virginians who often struggle on fixed incomes.”
There are about 70,000 West Virginia recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a federal cash assistance program that provides monthly payments to low-income aged, blind or disabled persons.
The increase follows a burst in inflation as the economy tries to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic.
West Virginia has an older population than most states. Hunter said for a lot of seniors in the Mountain State, it may be the only retirement benefit they have.
“Particularly at a time when they’re meeting higher demands in terms of the costs on their pocketbook for prescription drugs, for rent or mortgage payments, for utility bills,” he said.
For baby boomers who embarked on retirement within the last 15 years, it will be the biggest increase they’ve seen.
“Social security is truly a life line for many residents who continue to depend upon that monthly benefit,” Hunter said.
Hutner said AARP is urging policy makers in Washington, D.C. and across the country to work together to really ensure and protect the benefits as well as to expand Medicare.