Social Security Set to Announce Benefit Increase

Social Security COLA (FILE - In this Feb. 11, 2005, file photo rolls of blank social security checks run through printers and ar
Bradley C. Bower/AP
By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER

WASHINGTON -- Nearly 58 million Social Security recipients are finding out how much their monthly payments will go up next year.

The cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, is based on a government measure of inflation that is being released Wednesday.

Preliminary figures suggest a raise of roughly 1.5 percent, which would make it among the smallest since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975. The increase will be small because consumer prices, as measured by the government, haven't gone up much in the past year.

The COLA affects benefits for more than one-fifth of the country, including millions of disabled veterans, federal retirees and people who get Supplemental Security Income, the disability program for the poor.

Social Security pays the average retired worker $1,272 a month. A 1.5 percent raise would come to about $19.

In some years, part of that raise would be erased by an increase in Medicare Part B premiums, which are deducted automatically from Social Security payments. But Medicare announced Monday that Part B premiums, which cover doctor visits, will stay the same in 2014, at $104.90 a month for most seniors.

The COLA announcement had been scheduled for two weeks ago. It was delayed because the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not issue the inflation report for September during the partial government shutdown.

SOCIAL SECURITY COLA (Graphic shows annual Social Security cost-of-living adjustments; 2c x 3 inches; 96.3 mm x 76 mm;)

Since 1975, annual Social Security raises have averaged 4.1 percent. Only six times have they been less than 2 percent, including three of the past five years. This year's increase was 1.7 percent. There was no COLA in 2010 or 2011 because inflation was too low.

By law, the cost-of-living adjustment is based on the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers, a broad measure of consumer prices generated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It measures price changes for food, housing, clothing, transportation, energy, medical care, recreation and education.

The COLA is calculated by comparing consumer prices in July, August and September each year to prices in the same three months from the previous year. If prices go up over the course of the year, benefits go up, starting with payments delivered in January.

Polina Vlasenko, a research fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research, projects the COLA will be between 1.4 percent and 1.6 percent.

Her projection is similar to those done by others, including AARP, which estimates the COLA will be between 1.5 percent and 1.7 percent. The Senior Citizens League estimates it will be about 1.5 percent.

Lower prices for gasoline are helping keep inflation low, Vlasenko said.

Gasoline prices are down 2.4 percent from a year ago, while food prices are up slightly, according to the August inflation report. Housing costs, meanwhile, went up 2.3 percent, and utilities increased by 3.2 percent.

Medical costs went up less than in previous years but still outpaced some other consumer prices, rising 2.5 percent.

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33 Comments

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Stephen

I think our Government just wants to see more of the country comit suicide. How many even have retirement savings let alone a job that pays at least $15 hour with benefits, were are those jobs. I pray that I haven\'t had to be hospitalized for anything chronic, when that comes I\'d rather go on a bucket list vacation and then kick the bucket by suicide with my doctors assistance. Think of the debt I would save the country.

October 31 2013 at 6:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sjser

Whiteoak is correct. Meat is sky high. Gas goes up and down mercilessly. You can skewer the COL any way the feds want to. I am very bitter about this.
We paid into a SS fund when we worked with a total contribution of about 15% of our gross wage for 45 years. Had it been left alone, instead of raided for everything by everybody, the fund would be secure. Had I been able to invest 15% of my wage myself, I would have no problem getting more than I get now.

PS My mom, born in 1920, was a realtor, paid the max self-employed amt into SS for twenty years and was awarded HALF of my disabled father's SS, a whopping $340, in 1980 when she retired. She complained, only to be told she was "in the notch" and ineligible for SS. What notch??????? They took her money, she never received a dime. We supported her from 1996 when her savings ran out, until her death in 2001, as she had nothing left over the $340 monthly to live on and lots of medical and nursing home bills. SS is unfair to a lot of people, and there is no accountablility.

October 30 2013 at 10:32 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
winnipeg19

Wal mart\'s Pure and Gentile wipes, 6 months ago. 200 wipes for $1.74. Today , same product, 120 wipes same size 5.9 x6.8 in. SAME PRICE! COLA increase is adgusted by PRICE? Sure price has NOT increased but you get less product... SMART PEOPLE IN WASHINGTON, all with a GRADE 2 education.

October 30 2013 at 10:28 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to winnipeg19's comment
jrb359

I'm finding that a lot when i go food shopping! Less product, same price. Inflation?

October 30 2013 at 11:37 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Marilyn and Joe

im 884 and unablle to work the past 7 years this is a lot of bull 1.5 isnt enough to cover my rent increase . im almost unable to move as i cannot pack 45 boxes and no one to help me i have medicare and i cannot afford the copay for fpr drs.food prices here in florida have gone up aslmost daily /gas prices wasted on me as i drive 200 miles a month my car insurance is over 2000 dollars a year which means it costs me about a dollar a mile. had 1 accident in the past 30 years it cost my insyurance co. 258 dollars that was 5 years ago. thet have me nuts all the companies i call all about the same isnt that a crimhe?

October 30 2013 at 10:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
whiteoak

Guess they have not bought an beef this pst year,,beef prices have gone up by at least 50%. WE seniors will get a mere pittance compared to the UNION gov employees wh CAN\"T SURVIVE on less than a 10=15% annual raise

October 30 2013 at 10:12 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
jrb359

And to think that Congress gave itself a raise one year and gave Seniors, the ones that paid their salaries, no increase in their checks. Yet we have plenty of money to hand over to countries that hate us, welfare, food stamps, section 8 housing and useless social programs! We need to get our priorities in order.

October 30 2013 at 9:57 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Alan

What a friggin joke!!!!! Gasoline has gone up almost 100% in the last 4 years. My utility bills go up on average of 4-5% a year. because of the enrgy dept. and stupid ethanol, every and anything that has a corn based product has doubled. Locally taxes are going up and Seniors get a 1-1/2% increase. REALLY? Drop those with false disability claims, eliminate the welfare moms who keep having babies and clean up the welfare system. Rat basta---s

October 30 2013 at 9:43 AM Report abuse -7 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Alan's comment
theycallmeroy3

SSI is a totally different trust fund, than SS. So is DI. You don't want poor people to have more, just you. No matter how much the younger generation has to pay for it. You want more. Nice.

October 30 2013 at 9:52 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
pinballwizard123

Dont worry Alan, since they have stolen over 700 Billion dollars from Medicare, (not medicaid), you wont be around too much longer. Oh, and then they can steal the rest of your money with the "Death Tax". What a country!

October 30 2013 at 10:08 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
Handleys

The US spent $78 Billion on food stamps last year. Should this country base it's foreign and military policies on the dependancy of so many of our citizens?

October 30 2013 at 9:32 AM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply
cgino

One thing about Obamacare that may be good for seniors is the fact it will raise the prices on insurance which in turn will raise the cost of living. Next year they will have to substantially raise the percentage in COLA because of inflated Obamacare cost people are just now finding out about!

October 30 2013 at 9:30 AM Report abuse -10 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to cgino's comment
theycallmeroy3

Next year? You'll have chained-CPI. Your days of a substantial raise in CPI, are over.

October 30 2013 at 9:40 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
pinballwizard123

What fantasy world do you live in? You seriously think they will link the two? Cola is a joke to begin with because it doesn't use the cost of Food or fuel in the base calculations . I ask you, how can COLA be accurate without the cost of fuel and food figured into it?

October 30 2013 at 10:12 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
jeff

These in Government don\'t know if the cost of living gone up because they don\'t have to pay for any thing. The tax payer pay for ever thing for them. It time for them to have to pay for ever thing like the America Worker. They talk about the America People getting free stuff look at all the free stuff they get in Government. That they voted for for themselves.

October 30 2013 at 9:28 AM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply