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Seniors Get a Raise in 2012

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More than 60 million senior citizens will get a 3.6-percent raise in their Social Security benefits next year, their first increase since 2009, the federal government announced this week.

The increase comes in the form of a Cost-of-Living Adjustment, or COLA, which is tied to inflation. Since the official inflation rate didn’t budge much from 2009 through most of 2011, benefits remained flat for those years.

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The increase is welcome news for seniors, says Nancy LeaMond, executive vice president of the AARP.

“Over the past two years, costs for food, utilities and health care have continued to increase while Social Security benefits have not. This first increase in three years will provide much-needed relief to millions,” LeaMond said in a prepared statement to Credit.com.

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But for seniors facing large credit card balances, medical bills or other expenses, it may not make much a of a difference. After rising health care costs are taken into account, the increase will put about $30 more into seniors’ pockets every month on average, according to the AARP.

“Despite the absence of a Social Security COLA, over the last two years out-of-pocket health care costs rose 14.1 percent for seniors and people with disabilities, effectively reducing the value of Social Security benefits,” Nancy Altman, co-chair of the Strengthen Social Security Campaign, said in a statement.

[Related article: Your Social Security Disability Income Is Probably Safe … For Now]

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