Harlem Retiree Social Security Benefits Won’t Increase

October 17, 2015

social in harlemNY Daily News reports that wheelchair-bound Harlem retiree Patricia Carter was already three months behind on her rent when she heard the news Tuesday that her Social Security benefits aren’t increasing next year.

“I cried,” the 67-year-old former paralegal said as she waited at a bus stop on Amsterdam Ave. on her way to a food pantry.

“My check is already not enough to pay my expenses. I worked my entire life to be comfortable in my golden years, but the golden years don’t exist.”

…roughly 65 million Americans affected by the decision to keep benefits flat for the third time in six years

Carter is one of roughly 65 million Americans affected by the decision to keep benefits flat for the third time in six years.

The government’s rationale — a decline in inflation due to low gas prices — was met with disgust by Social Security-dependent New Yorkers who say they have been grappling with spiraling food costs and skyrocketing rents.

“There’s nothing cheap here. Everything’s very expensive,” said Claudia Nunez, 73, of Harlem, who lives off a monthly $792 Social Security check. “I always say — the poor ones are the ones that always suffer.”

Marion Graves, 72, a retired postal worker from Washington Heights, counts himself lucky — he receives social security benefits and a pension.

“I have the pension, thank god,” Graves said. “But a lot of people around here are on a fixed income.”

The depressing news marked just the third time in 40 years — but all since 2010 — that payments remained flat. The average monthly Social Security check is $1,224.

Carter, the retired paralegal who worked at a midtown law firm for 42 years, receives a $1,611 benefits check. But barely pennies are left over after she shells out for her rent and utilities, she said.

“It’s not enough,” said Carter, a widow who suffers from a host of health problems including congestive heart failure, emphysema and spinal stenosis. “I have to choose whether to buy medicine or buy food.”

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