No Social Security increase for Seniors

Congress did not decide to withhold the cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs. Rather, the increases are automatically set each year by an inflation measure that was adopted by Congress back in the 1970s.

The average Social Security benefit is about $1,072 a month.

Losing the adjustment for 2011, after losing it in 2010, marks only the second year without an increase since automatic increases for inflation were adopted in 1975.

Social Security was the primary source of income for 64 percent of retirees who got benefits in 2008, according to the Social Security Administration. A third relied on Social Security for at least 90 percent of their income.

In 2008, Social Security kept almost 36 percent of older Americans out of poverty.

Social Security recipients got a one-time bonus payment of $250 in the spring of 2009 as part of the government's massive economic recovery package. President Barack Obama lobbied for another one last fall when it became clear seniors wouldn't get an increase in monthly benefit payments in 2010.

Congress took up the issue, but Senate Republicans, along with 12 Democrats and independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, voted down the second bonus payment.

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