October 16, 2009
Lubbock senior citizens will feel the crunch when their benefits don't go up next year.
Consumer prices, especially for energy, that have fallen nationwide mean 50 million Americans who receive Social Security benefits won't receive a bump in pay for the first time since automatic adjustments began 34 years ago.
The falling national index broke a long-running trend, said Scott Hein, the Robert C. Brown Chair of Finance at Texas Tech's Rawls College of Business Administration.
Benefits have averaged an increase of 3 percent every year, he said. A spike in energy costs in 2008 triggered a 5.8 percent increase in payments in January.
When energy prices fell, so did the price index, Hein said. Gasoline prices have fallen 29.7 percent over the past 12 months, and overall energy costs have decreased 21.6 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.