(NEXSTAR) – It’s already very likely that Social Security recipients can expect a significantly lower cost-of-living increase than the 8.7% adjustment they received in 2023. But they’ll know for certain this week.
The Social Security Administration’s annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) are designed to help Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients retain their buying power amid rising inflation. These increases, which are issued annually, are determined using the Bureau of Labor’s Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), which itself is a measure of the change in prices for common consumer goods and services.
The Labor Bureau actually releases a revised CPI-W each month, reflecting the change in prices concerning a number of consumer goods and services including food, utilities and shelter. But only the data from July, August and September are considered when calculating the annual COLA adjustment for the following year.
The most recent estimate for 2024’s COLA is somewhere around 3.2%, as projected by the Senior Citizen’s League, a nonpartisan senior advocacy group. But such an increase, while far lower than 2023’s increase of 8.7% or 2022’s increase of 5.9%, would still be one of the largest in over a decade.
Even still, the Senior Citizen’s League (TSCL) warns that a 3.2% increase would only add an extra $57 per month to the average recipient’s benefit amount of $1,790 — and would not be enough to sustain the cost of living for most beneficiaries, according to a recent TSCL study.
“Because retiree costs are rising at a far more rapid pace than the COLA raises benefits, this study found that a Social Security benefit of $1,969.80 per month in 2023 would have been required … just to maintain the same level of buying power as in 2000,” the league wrote of its findings.
TSCL had also noted that Medicare Part B premiums, which are automatically deducted from Social Security checks, have yet to be announced. The group expects the premiums to increase by about $15, from $164.90 to $179.80, based partially on a report from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
The Social Security Administration is expected to announce its official cost-of-living adjustment for 2024 on Thursday. The increased benefits are payable starting January 2024 for Social Security recipients. Those receiving SSI will see their first adjusted benefits near the end of December 2023.