No increase in Social Security next year

social Security cards

Social Security recipients have received a cost-of-living adjustment every year since 1975.

Checks got a generous 5.8% boost this year, raising the average Social Security benefit from $1,090 to $1,153 a month.

But the Congressional Budget Office is projecting that 2010's Social Security cost-of-living adjustment will be zero. Zilch. Nothing.

The annual adjustment for 2010 will be based on changes in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from the third quarter of 2008 to the third quarter of this year.

The budget office is forecasting that consumer prices will show a decline from late summer 2008 to late summer 2009, primarily because energy prices that soared in 2008 and contributed to this year's 5.8% cost-of-living adjustment have fallen a great deal since last fall.

If that's the case, it will be the first time retirees won't get at least some increase in Social Security benefits since they were tied to the Consumer Price Index. (The smallest increases were 1.3% in 1987 and 1999.)

What can you do if you're already having trouble making ends meet?

Retirees who own their homes can use a reverse mortgage to boost their income with no risk of losing their property.

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