First COLA Bump Over 2% in Years

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Got your eye on the upcoming October announcement of the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment? Here’s what one influential group predicts.


If you’ve been waiting for a COLA (the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment) worth more than a few pennies, you may finally get your wish, new study reports.


A new report from The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) anticipates a 2.1% increase in COLA to be announced this coming fall for 2018.


That’s better than in 2015 when the announced inflation adjustment for 2016 was zero. In 2016 the announced adjustment for 2017 was 0.3%. In fact, recipients would have to look back to 2011 when a 3.6% adjustment for 2012 was announced to even get over 2%. (And the two years prior to that? The COLA was zero.)


But the predicted increase for 2018 may be small comfort. The study also finds Social Security beneficiaries have lost nearly one-third of their buying power since 2000.




“With today’s Social Security benefit averaging just $1,320 per month, that’s an unsustainable level of rising spending when there’s just a 0.3% benefit increase to match,” said TSCL Social Security Policy Analyst Mary Johnson, who wrote the study. “To put it in perspective, for every $100 worth of expenses seniors could afford in 2000, they can afford just $70 today.”


As seniors’ spending power has declined since 2000, Johnson’s study found many of the 10 fastest-rising costs are aimed squarely at them. Medicare Part B premiums topped the list up from $45 a month in 2000 to $134 in 2017, a more than 195% climb.


Other costs on the rise include prescription drugs, homeowner’s insurance, real estate taxes, Medicare Supplement Insurance, pet care, and total medical out-of-pocket costs for people 65 and up.


To better serve seniors receiving Social Security and reflect the rising costs of the things they buy, TSCL advocates changing how COLAs are calculated, from using a consumer price index that focuses on urban wage earners to a price index that focuses on the items those over 62 buy, such as health care.


Have the years of low Social Security increases challenged your budget? What steps have you taken?


With 1.2 million supporters, The Senior Citizens League claims to be one of the nation’s largest nonpartisan organizations representing seniors. for more information.