Gray Panthers of San Francisco
June, 2006 Newsletter

The Cost of Living


Have you looked at your Social Security checks this year? Mine went up $54.30 a month—4.16%. But the Medicare deduction went up $10.30 and thus wiped out 19% of that increase, leaving me with a net increase of $44.00. That Medicare increase of $10.30 a month is the same for everyone, regardless of the size of your check. Even if your rent hasn’t gone up, the cost of food certainly has. Have you looked at shoes lately? Movies went up. A single ride on Muni went up, and if you still have a car, don’t even mention gas. Your health care premiums went up and your co-pays went up too, especially if you use prescription drugs. Tighten your belt another notch.

While we’re keeping a wary eye out for another attempt to privatize Social Security, we should work on ways to improve it, as the safety net for million of people. One place to start is the outmoded way they calculate cost-of-living increases.

Speaking of strange calculations, Deborah Reed of the Public Policy Institute of California, the featured speaker at our April meeting, told us how poverty is calculated by the US Government:

Official/federal poverty measures, such as those reported by the Census Bureau, are calculated by comparing cash income to a federal poverty threshold that varies by the number of adults and children. The federal poverty thresholds were developed in the mid-1960s based on estimates of the cost of adequate food. The food budgets were multiplied by three because estimates showed that families spent about one third of their budget on food at that time. Obviously that is no longer true. These poverty thresholds are adjusted annually for price inflation.

(back to June 2006 Newsletter front page)