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Ahead of Social Security increase, AP anticipates reader questions

Margaret Toman, 78, stands on the steps of her home in Garner, North Carolina, on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. She purchased the house to take care of her mother, who recently died of Alzheimer's disease, and is now struggling to pay the bills. (AP Photo/Hannah Schoenbaum)

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Fatima Hussein, Stan Choe, Cora Lewis, Amanda Seitz, Hannah Schoenbaum, Trisha Ahmed, Claire Savage and Kevin Vineys teamed up two months ago, across bureaus and departments, planning all-formats coverage of an expected Social Security cost-of-living increase. In the current economic climate, they anticipated — correctly — the story would have strong audience appeal and would require a range of explanatory journalism that would also capture the circumstances and voices of people across the U.S.

Treasury Department reporter Hussein set the tone for the coverage with a robust mainbar exploring the jump in benefits. She also recorded an on-camera video debrief before the news broke. User-friendly content from Business News journalists Lewis and Choe provided an overview of how the system works and a comprehensive Q&A on this latest benefit adjustment and its impact, as well as what the future holds for Social Security. Graphics by multimedia journalist Kevin Vineys made all the data easy to follow.

Washington journalist Amanda Seitz reported that the benefits boost is unlikely to help Democrats ahead of the midterm elections,and could bring unwanted attention to inflation numbers. Seitz also joined Report for America journalists Savage,Ahmed and Schoenbaum, asking Social Security recipients to explain the expected impact of the benefit increase on their monthly budgets. Those interviews fueled a human-centered story revealing recipients’ concern that an 8.7% adjustment will not be enough to cover their expenses.

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