Social Security COLA Projected At 1.5 Percent

The Associated Press reported last week that millions of Social Security recipients, including those who get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits could see only a 1.5 percent raise in payment amounts next year.

Preliminary figures suggest the 1.5 percent raise would be the smallest since automatic increases were adopted in 1975 (outside of years when no adjustments were made). The AP reported that the increase would be smaller because consumer prices measured by the government have not gone up over the past year.

The raise is part of the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA); an exact number will not be released until the government returns from its shutdown. Typically, the Labor Department releases inflation information in September, but the shutdown has delayed reporting indefinitely.

Aside from Social Security beneficiaries, the COLA will have an effect on more than 3 million disabled veterans, and about 2.5 million federal retirees and their survivors. According to the AP, the average monthly Social Security payment is currently $1,162—a 1.5 percent raise for this amount would total about an extra $17 per month.

Since 1975, Social Security payments have had a COLA of about 4.1 percent. Only six times has the raise been less than two percent, including this year, when it was 1.7 percent. In 2010 and 2011 there was no COLA because inflation was too low, according to the AP.

“In years with high COLA’s, a lot of that had to do with fuel prices and in some cases food prices. Neither of those increased much this year,” Polina Vlasenko, a researcher at the American Institute for Economic Research told the AP. “So that kept the lid on the overall increase in prices.”

The potentially small raise angers many people. “This (COLA) is not enough to keep up with inflation, as it affects seniors,” Max Richtman of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare told the AP. “There are some things that become cheaper but they are not things that seniors buy. Laptop computers have gone down dramatically but how many people at 70 are buying laptop computers?”

It would be nice if Social Security recipients received a larger COLA, as well as an overall raise in benefit amounts. A little over $1,000 per month for most people is not a lot of money to live on, especially when a person has nothing else to supplement his or her income.

If you have questions about an application for Social Security benefits, do not hesitate to contact our Tulsa Social Security Disability lawyers for a free evaluation of your case. You may also reach us by phone at (918) 265-1404.

Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security Disability lawyers

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