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Rising Costs Challenge Social Security’s Effectiveness: Potential Impact on Senior Support for Biden


For many senior citizens, Social Security is more than just a monthly check—it’s a lifeline. However, despite receiving the largest annual increases in decades, many seniors find that their Social Security benefits still fall short of covering the rising costs of living. This financial strain is pushing some to dip into savings, accrue credit card debt, or seek out assistance programs to make ends meet. This pressing issue could also have political repercussions, potentially affecting senior support for President Joe Biden as inflation continues to be a hot-button issue.

The Real Impact of Inflation on Fixed Incomes

The past few years have seen significant increases in Social Security benefits due to high inflation rates. In 2022 and 2023, seniors received cost-of-living adjustments of 5.9% and 8.7% respectively, some of the highest since the 1980s. Yet, these increases have not sufficed in the face of unrelenting price hikes across essential spending categories like food, housing, and utilities. The Senior Citizens League points out that since 2000, the buying power of Social Security benefits has diminished by 36%. This erosion of financial stability is profound, with seniors expressing that the cost-of-living adjustments simply do not keep pace with their escalating expenses.

Daily Struggles and Compounded Costs

With grocery prices almost 33% higher than when Biden took office, according to Datasembly’s Grocery Price Index, many seniors are finding it increasingly difficult to afford basic necessities without compromising other areas of their budget. The disparity between the cost-of-living adjustments and actual living costs has left many dependent on additional financial resources. Shannon Benton, executive director of The Senior Citizens League, describes the situation as dire, emphasizing that seniors are “literally suffering” as they struggle to manage the continuous rise in prices.

Political Implications and Senior Voting Power

The financial wellbeing of seniors is not just a matter of economic concern but a significant political issue as well. With the 2024 general election on the horizon, President Biden’s administration faces the challenge of retaining the senior vote—a demographic that has shown fluctuating allegiance between major political parties. In 2020, Trump secured 52% of their vote, but recent polls suggest a more even split between Biden and Trump among older voters this year. Biden’s efforts to court senior citizens have been evident, with his administration pushing for reduced prescription drug prices and protecting Social Security and Medicare. However, the real test will be whether these measures resonate enough with seniors who feel financially pinched under the current economic climate.

Looking Ahead: The Future of Social Security Adjustments

As the U.S. gears up for another election cycle, the timing of Social Security adjustments could be critical. The annual adjustment, typically announced in mid-October, will come at a crucial time just weeks before the election. Projections suggest a possible 3% increase in benefits for next year, contingent on inflation trends in the coming months. This adjustment, however critical, may still not align with the actual cost increases faced by seniors, potentially influencing their voting decisions.


The intersection of financial hardship and political implications makes the issue of Social Security adjustments particularly poignant for senior citizens. As they navigate the complexities of managing a fixed income in a fluctuating economy, the adequacy of Social Security benefits remains a pivotal concern. For many seniors, the reality of their daily budgeting could influence not just their personal finances but the political landscape as well. As the election approaches, both seniors and politicians alike will be closely watching how these economic dynamics unfold, knowing that for many voters, their financial health is on the ballot.