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Social Security: 5 things the average beneficiaries' check can buy

Millions of Americans collect Social Security benefits each month – a program that has come under scrutiny for both its long-term viability and the amount it pays to beneficiaries.

According to data from the Social Security Administration, after the 2.8 percent cost of living adjustment enacted in 2019, the average benefit for all retired workers as of Jan. 2019 was $1,461. The cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) was expected to boost the average beneficiary’s check by $39 per month.

Despite the increase, the AARP warned that it would not be enough to account for expenses that are rising faster than inflation – including health care and housing costs.

The SSA will announce the COLA for 2020 within the coming months.

However, Social Security was never intended to be the primary source of retirement income – but rather a supplementary source.

As noted by GOBankingRates, Social Security was designed to supplement about 40 percent of earnings.

Here’s a look at what Americans can purchase with the average Social Security check, as compiled by GOBankingRates:


In a number of cities, renters can find properties for less than $1,000 per month.

Some of those cities include Dayton, Ohio, where the average monthly rent is about $711; Augusta, Georgia, where monthly rent is about $834; Brownsville, Texas, where the average monthly rent is about $931 and Pensacola, Florida, where residents can pay about $983 in rent each month.

Months’ worth of grocery bills

Seniors over the age of 65 spend about $267 per month on groceries, on average.

Social Security beneficiaries, therefore, would be able to afford five months of groceries, where the bill would total $1,335.

iPhone XS Max

The retail price of an iPhone XS Max is $999, which could easily be covered with the average monthly benefit. However, it does not include the monthly cost of service.

Months’ worth of Medicare Part B insurance

Medicare Part B insurance cost at least $134 per month, as of 2017.

At that rate, and after covering the yearly deductible, recipients would be able to afford about 9 months’ worth of expenses.


Golf at Pebble Beach, California

For those looking to enjoy a few rounds of golf in retirement, the average monthly benefit would cover about two rounds of golf in Pebble Beach.

According to GOBankingRates, each round costs about $495 – but the additional expenses bring the total closer to $541, which would be $1,082 for two rounds.

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