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Social Security COLA Set at 5.9 Percent for 2022


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Salty Dog
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Social Security COLA Set at 5.9 Percent for 2022

Rising prices lead to biggest cost-of-living adjustment to benefits in four decades

by John Waggoner, AARP, October 13, 2021

The Social Security Administration (SSA) announced Oct. 13 that its annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will be 5.9 percent, a boost to average retirement benefits of about $92 per month for individuals, starting in January. The 2022 COLA is the largest increase to Social Security benefits since the 7.4 percent hike that went into effect in January 1983. Until this year, COLAs have been modest, averaging a 1.65 percent increase annually over the past decade, with no gain at all to benefits in 2016. The increase that went into effect in January 2021 was 1.3 percent.

“Today’s announcement of a 5.9 percent COLA increase, the largest increase in four decades, is crucial for Social Security beneficiaries and their families as they try to keep up with rising costs,” says AARP Chief Executive Officer Jo Ann Jenkins. “The guaranteed benefits provided by Social Security and the COLA increase are more crucial than ever as millions of Americans continue to face the health and economic impacts of the pandemic. Social Security is the largest source of retirement income for most Americans and provides nearly all income (90% or more) for 1 in 4 seniors.”

How the Social Security COLA is calculated
The annual Social Security COLA is based on the change in prices of a market basket of goods. To measure these changes, SSA uses the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).

For the 2022 COLA, SSA measured the change in the average CPI-W index from July, August and September of 2020 to the average CPI-W index for the same three-month span in 2021. The percentage change between the two quarterly averages is the COLA starting in January 2022.

The 2022 COLA was so large because prices of goods and services have significantly increased in the past year, due in part to extreme weather and COVID-19 outbreaks, which have driven up energy prices and strained the world’s supply chains.

Since Congress initiated automatic annual COLAs in 1975, there have been three years in which benefits didn't increase at all: 2010, 2011 and 2016. The single biggest increase, 14.3 percent, went into effect in January 1981.

COLA increases by year
Note: COLA changes take effect the next Jan. 1
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Source: Social Security Administration

Social Security is funded by a payroll tax of 12.4 percent on eligible wages — employees pay 6.2 percent and employers pay the other 6.2 percent (with self-employed workers paying the entire 12.4 percent). Next year, the maximum amount of wage earnings subject to the Social Security tax will increase to $147,000 from $142,800 in 2021. The money paid in by today's workers goes to cover current benefits, with any excess going into the Social Security Trust Fund.

Because there are fewer workers relative to the growing number of Social Security beneficiaries, the Social Security system is facing increased stress. In their 2021 annual report, Social Security's Trustees estimated that if no legislative action is taken, the trust fund for retired workers and their survivors will run short of money in 2033. Even at that point, over three-quarters of benefits could still be paid out from incoming payroll taxes. A separate Trust Fund that pays disability benefits is projected to run short of money in 2057.

Social Security and Medicare Part B premiums
Most Social Security recipients will see their COLA reduced by an increase in the cost of Medicare. Medicare Part B premiums, which cover physician visits and outpatient medical services, are typically deducted directly from Social Security benefit payments. The 2022 monthly premium for Medicare Part B recipients has yet to be announced; the standard premium in 2021 is $148.50 per month. An increase of about $10 is projected for 2022. “Given its importance to income security, policymakers should work together to ensure the long-term solvency and adequacy of Social Security and to protect the hard-earned benefits of millions of Americans and their families,” Jenkins says. “Congress must also complete ongoing work to protect seniors by reducing one of their fastest rising costs – high drug prices – and expanding access to needed dental, hearing and vision coverage in Medicare.”

https://www.aarp.org/retirement/social-security/info-2021/cola-set-for-2022.html

 

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Pman

So what’s the real USA inflation rate ?
 

I’ve been hearing 20+ percent rises in most goods.

Glad I’m here in the Philippines   But it seems like there has been a lot of inflation here from when I was last here 4 years ago. 

I can only imagine such high inflation will tank the dollar exchange vs PH peso rate eventually. 

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Chris24

Can't just print trillions of dollars (or any currency) without some (or maybe a lot of) inflationary consequences.  My own sense is that some of what we (or some of us) saw during the late 1970s will be repeating in 2021-2023.  Although I'm not drawing social security yet, I'm glad that the U.S. government recognizes this with the COLA increase.

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Cool, another 5200 pesos more a month. That's almost a month's grocery money right there. :)

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Chris24
3 hours ago, Jay said:

Cool, another 5200 pesos more a month. That's almost a month's grocery money right there. :)

That's the insidious thing about inflation, it "feels" like SS recipients just got a pay raise, but in the long run, it's only what it's called - - a cost of living adjustment, albeit it may be an actual increase in purchasing power for some people for a while due to exchange rate, a lag in cost increases rippling through to your particular spending habits, etc.  And then there are taxes on the increase......

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Edwin

Sometimes a raise is a cut in pay. The increase is not based on the elderly cost of living (CPI-E) it is based on the urban cost of living (CPI-U). Seniors on SS lose purchasing power every year as the elderly cost of living increases more than the urban cost of living due to higher medical expenses.

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Dafey
6 hours ago, Edwin said:

Seniors on SS lose purchasing power every year as the elderly cost of living increases

And, medicare will also increase taking a bite out of the 5.9% jump.

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SkyMan

Looks like military retirees also getting 5.9% but active duty only 2.7% for some reason. 

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Pman

Disabled vets like me are getting the full 5.9 % bump. 

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