TOMS RIVER – While a 2.8 percent increase in Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for Ocean County seniors relying on Social Security is a positive step, it is not enough, according to Ocean County Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari.
Out of the almost 173,000 seniors living in Ocean County, there were 126,255 seniors aged 65 and older in Ocean County receiving Social Security as of December 2017. Studies show that the average Social Security benefit provides an elderly person living alone in Ocean County only 54 to 76 percent of the amount needed to cover basic expenses.
According to Vicari, a higher COLA would better serve the vast senior population in the county.
“While this Cost of Living Adjustment is better than past years when there had been no increase, our seniors would be better served by a higher COLA,” said Vicari, who is Chairman of Senior Services in Ocean County. “With one of the highest percentages of seniors in the country, it is my priority to make sure Social Security is maintained and preserved. It’s also important our seniors receive an ample benefit from a program most have paid into all of their working days.”
Ocean County seniors can also receive assistance from the county’s Office of Senior Services. For example, the senior nutrition program provides 1,100 meals a day to seniors including the home delivered meal program, said Vicari.
“Ocean County continues to appropriate funds for senior services that help keep our seniors independent,” he added. “The Board of Freeholders made sure there is no waiting list for this very important program.
It’s imperative that all levels of government assist in providing our aging populations with programs and services that will make their lives better and keep them out of nursing homes and hospitals.”
More than 67 million Americans will see a 2.8 percent increase in 2019, according to Social Security, Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Social Security plays a key financial role in the lives of our seniors…Yet statistics show our seniors are hardly, if at all, getting by on it should it be their main income source,” Vicari said.
For information on Ocean County senior programs and services, contact the Ocean County Office of Senior Services at 732-929-2091.