HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Many people in Hawaii rely on Social Security checks to make ends meet. As of 2010, there were 227,914 Social Security recipients statewide.
In January, they and others across the nation are expected to get their first increase in benefits since 2009. Many retirees feel that it's about time.
Wally Landford, 75, walks up the steps outside his home, unwilling to let multiple health issues keep him from enjoying life. He's happy to hear that Social Security beneficiaries like him can expect to see bigger checks come January.
"It makes me feel a helluva lot better," he said. "Not meaning I'll go out and get drunk, but I feel like I can at least pay another bill on time."
The Social Security Administration is expected to announce Wednesday a cost of living adjustment of about 3.5 percent. Senior citizens receiving the average benefit of $1,082 a month would see an additional $37.84.
It would be the first bump since 2009. There was no COLA the past two years, a period when many retirees and disabled people saw their property values fall and investment accounts shrink.
"It was getting tighter," Landford said. "I was in the process of looking at ways of re-financing my home to get a little bit more money in the bank."
Landford, who retired after more than two decades with the state, says he's lucky because his children do look out for him. But it's still not easy. He says his out-of-pocket medical expenses run about $300 a month.
"You know, you cut here, you cut there," he said. "Sometimes you take the cheaper medication and you don't know whether that works or not."
Officials say some of the Social Security increase may be lost to higher Medicare premiums.
"It's kind of scary," Landford said. "The whole thing that's going on now in Washington is frightening, not only to myself I imagine, but a lot of people."