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Social Security increase will impact small communities

Pittsburgh residents who rely on Social Security or Supplemental Security Income should notice an increase in their monthly checks to the tune of 3.6 percent. This cost of living adjustment is the first for Social Security benefits since 2009. In March 2011, it was estimated that the COLA would be an increase of 1.2 percent. Due to inflation, however, that percentage has tripled.

Social Security's COLA is based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. That number is compared in the third quarter from one year to the next.

While the COLA increase is triple its projection, Medicare Part B premiums will only increase approximately $3. The original prediction was a jump from $96.40 to $113.80 each month. The new basic Medicare premium will be $99.90 each month. It is the first premium change since 2008.

As a nation, Social Security accounts for 5.5 percent of income per capita. That number changes by county according to the size of the cities in the county. Generally, the smaller the population, the more they rely on Social Security. Social Security makes up 5 percent of income to those in urban counties, 8.2 percent of income to those in counties with small cities and 9.3 percent of income to those in rural counties. More than one out of five American in counties with small cities and rural counties received Social Security in 2009.

Counties with small communities benefit from Social Security partly because of the high number of retirees. Senior citizens who receive checks are likely to spend those checks locally, feeding the local economy. Some communities are comprised of the elderly to a point where, if Social Security dried up, so would the local economy.

Source: Plumas County News, "Social Security beneficiaries to see cost-of-living increase", Delaine Fragnoli, Jan. 4, 2012

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