Inflation taking a toll on people living on assistance, fixed incomes

Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 4:53 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Prices at the grocery store, at the pump, and pretty much everywhere else have gone up due to inflation and it’s hurting people’s wallets in big ways.

Chip Riley is on disability assistance and uses government benefits to buy things like groceries. But with the recent spike in prices, he says the amount he receives isn’t cutting it.

“What little bit I get in my food stamps don’t even cover a quarter of the month,” he said.

He’s stocking up on what he can at his Adams Center home.

“I eat chicken and pork and the price of chicken is wicked bad but I buy it because I have to have it,” he said.

It’s because Riley is diabetic, meaning he can only eat certain foods to maintain his prescribed diet. And with his diagnosis comes insulin and about a dozen prescriptions.

He says if those weren’t covered under insurance, he would be even worse off.

“If I had to pay for all of them, I would be in trouble. I mean, I would be in the hospital all the time,” said Riley.

The latest reports say consumer prices are up more than 8 percent over this time last year - a 40-year high.

By itself, the gasoline index rose by more than 18 percent in March.

All the price hikes are hurting people on fixed incomes like Riley.

“I just budget out everything the best I can and, like, right now, listen I’m done for the month. Until next month I’ve got nothing left,” he said.

Kathleen Kazakoff with the Jefferson County Office for the Aging says Riley isn’t the only one feeling the effects. Some of the office’s services have had to change on the fly.

“The size of their meal sometimes looks smaller than it used to, and again it’s because of the cost and the availability of certain products,” she said.

However, Kazakoff says there is some relief on the way as the recently-passed state budget increases funds for different benefit programs.

“We still have a waiting list for people with unmet needs. We are trying to get them either home care, respite care, a variety of things,” she said.

Kazakoff says the easiest way for someone to get financial help right now is to reach out to their local county or state offices to see what they may qualify for.

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