LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - If you're retired, health care costs keep increasing and now the amount you take home from Social Security is about to decrease. It's a reality many senior citizens face today. Last week the government announced seniors will not see a cost of living adjustment in their Social Security checks for the next two years. This is because cost of living is actually down due to lower gas and energy prices, but many seniors say their costs are actually still going up.
"It worries a lot of people," said Robert Rouse who is a retired Texas Tech economics and finance professor. Thanks to his career, his financial future is stable, but he says many of his peers do not have that same comfort.
A large number of senior citizens who depend on Social Security will have to tighten their budgets soon. For the first time in years they will not see a cost of living increase in their Social Security checks. That coupled with rising Medicare drug premiums means many will actually get a smaller take-home check. "If their incomes don't go up, the fact that medical payments have increased is going to actually reduce their standard of living," said Rouse.
Darleen West receives Social Security and said, "I'm disappointed of course. I think everybody is who is on Medicare, and we're all very concerned about the increased cost of medical care, very much so." West says seniors cut some of those medical expenses by doing their homework. "Check with your doctor about pharmaceuticals that can be generic," she said.
Rouse says another solution is downsizing to decrease your cost of living.
He hopes the government will be able to control the problem of rising costs as they work to reform healthcare. "Contact your congressman and say we need to have an additional amount as far as this is concerned," said Rouse.
Texas Tech Finance Professor, Scott Hein, says the best way to deal with a smaller check may just be basic budgeting, "Be price conscious, and look for those deals that you can really help yourself out by buying things that are more reasonable. Substitute the cheaper stuff for the more expensive stuff."
While many seniors are concerned about the state of Social Security, Hein says it's younger people who should really worry. He thinks post Baby Boomer generations should start saving now because you may not be able to count on Social Security the way seniors do today.