The Cost of Living Adjustment Is Going Up, But by How Much?

Is the wait list for developmental disability benefits unfair?

Every year, the amount of benefits that the Social Security Administration (SSA) gives out is adjusted to account for inflation and the price of living expenses. This Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) adds to the benefits most SSDI recipients get, but for the past eight years that amount has been just barely over 1 percent. Now it looks like benefits recipients could be receiving more in 2018, but will this COLA be enough to handle the increase in living costs?

Will the Cost of Living Adjustment Be Enough?

Many factors have conspired to stagnate the COLA over the past few years. This year, the adjustment was less than half of a percent point, and 2016 saw no COLA increase. This all changes in 2018.

According to the SSA, the COLA will increase to 2 percent in 2018. This is the largest adjustment increase since 2012, and it may be due to 2017’s active hurricane season. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria were all powerful storms, and their landfall caused major destruction along the gulf coast and in Puerto Rico. This caused a spike in fuel prices, which subsequently caused the Cost of Living Adjustment to increase.

This is good news for many benefits recipients, however, it may still be too small for many. For the average benefits recipient, their COLA payment comes out to a little over $23 a month. Many find it hard to believe that this will cover the rise in medical costs and living expenses expected for next year. This problem is amplified here in Oklahoma due to the continuing budget crisis.

Oklahoma Department of Human Services programs may find their budgets slashed once more as our state’s lawmakers try to balance a bleeding budget. And though Oklahomans with disabilities will welcome the COLA increase, it does little to help them continue the services they need to maintain their living situations. That means the Tulsa disability attorneys at Troutman & Troutman will continue to keep an ear to the ground for any news that could help Oklahoman’s with disabilities afford the services they need.


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