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Paynesville Press - December 4, 2002

Social Security announces 2003 increase

Monthly benefit payments will increase by 1.4 percent next year for more than 65,000 Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries in Minnesota, Chris Canney, manager of the Social Security office in St. Cloud announced last week.

More than 50 million Social Security and SSI beneficiaries nationwide will receive the annual cost-of-living adjustment increase. For the average Social Security retiree, the 2003 increase will mean an extra $13 per month.

"The 2003Éincrease tells us that inflation continues to be low, which is certainly good news for the elderly and disabled," said Jo Anne Barnhard, commissioner for Social Security. "Inflation is one of the biggest challenges for people living on a fixed income, and the annual (cost of living adjustment) ensures that a person's monthly benefit doesn't drop in value over time."

Social Security beneficiaries will see the 1.4 percent increase in the payment they receive in January 2003. SSI beneficiaries will see the increase beginning with the payment they receive on Dec. 31, 2002.

For Social Security beneficiaries, the average monthly benefit amount for all retired workers will increase from $882 to $895. The maximum federal SSI monthly payments to an individual will increase from $545 to $552. For a couple, the maximum federal SSI payment will increase from $817 to $829.

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