As inflation continues to rise, senior citizens are struggling more than others. The small cost-of-living increase in their Social Security benefits for 2021 wasn’t enough to cover the increased costs of everything, from hamburgers to gasoline, in the second half of the year. Some seniors are advocating for more federal relief. Are Social Security recipients getting a fourth stimulus check?
The nonpartisan Senior Citizens League is asking Congress to provide Social Security recipients with a fourth stimulus check of $1,400 by the end of the year. Over 75,000 people have signed a petition by the group in support of the extra relief payment.
The extra money is needed to make up for the menial cost-of-living adjustment to Social Security benefits for 2021, says Mary Johnson, Social Security and Medicare policy analyst for the league.
"Social Security benefits only raised by 1.3 percent—on average that's $20. That really eroded the buying power people had even just 12 months ago," Johnson told Newsweek.
Inflation and rising consumer costs are the main factors that impact cost-of-living adjustments. The Social Security Administration adjusts the annual benefit every October based on what’s happening in July, August, and September with the CPI-W (Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers).
For 2021, the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) was at a historic low of 1.3 percent. It was based on the CPI-W estimated inflation of 1.4 percent in 2020. In comparison, the COLA to benefits for 2022 is at a historic high of 5.9 percent, the highest it has been in 40 years.
Some Americans want monthly payments until the pandemic ends
Seniors aren’t the only ones looking for a additional federal relief. Over 2.9 million Americans have signed a petition on Change.org in favor of regular monthly payments in the amount of $2,000 per adult and $1,000 per child for the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To date, most Americans have received three stimulus checks totaling $3,200 to help them get through the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The payouts were:
$1,200 in March 2020 as part of the CARES Act.
$600 in Dec. 2020.
$1,400 in March 2021 as part of Biden’s American Rescue Plan.
A fourth stimulus check of $600 was issued for select groups
In Sept. 2021, the Biden administration announced that it would be sending a fourth check for $600 to select groups of people. The relief funds were included in Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act passed in March.
Who gets the 4th stimulus check?
The fourth stimulus checks for $600 are only being sent to meatpacking workers, farmworkers, and grocery employees, who were among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The American Rescue Plan Act allocated $700 million to help workers in these industries, with $20 million earmarked for grocery store workers.
These payments won’t, however, come from the federal government. Most of the checks will be issued through state agencies and tribal governments.