The cost-of-living continues to rise, but Social Security payments next year to more than 58 million Americans won't reflect the increase.
Government officials say Social Security checks in 2011 will not have a cost adjustment. This will be the second time that there has been no increase in benefits based on inflation since the adjustments were adopted in 1975. The first time such an increase was not instituted was this year.
"If you're the ruling party, this is not the sort of thing you want to have happening two weeks before an election," said Andrew Biggs, a former deputy commissioner at the Social Security Administration and now a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
"It's not the congressional Democrats' fault, but that's the way politics works," Biggs said. "A lot of people will feel hostile about it."
Social Security was the primary source of income for 64 percent of retirees who got benefits in 2008, according to the Social Security Administration. A third relied on Social Security for at least 90 percent of their income.
The average Social Security check amounts to $1,072 a month.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said he expects older voters to be angry when they learn there will be no increase for the second straight year.
"I do think there's going to be political fallout," Sanders said. "Many seniors who are spending a lot of money on health care and prescription drugs really are going to find it hard to believe that there has been no inflationary costs to their purchasing needs."
**Originally published Oct. 11, 2010.