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Social Security News

Social Security COLA Increase of About 1.5 Percent Now Expected on October 30

The cost-of-living allowance for seniors and others on Social Security was delayed due to ‘lapse in funding’ by Department of Labor’s CPI determination

Oct. 18, 2013 – Senior citizens and others on Medicare will find out their pay increase for 2014 on Wednesday, October 30. The Department of Labor says that is the day it will release the Consumer Price Index for September, which is the last number needed to calculate the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2014. Current estimates are an increase of 1.4 or 1.5 percent.

"The Consumer Price Index, September 2013, will be released at 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 30,” says the Bureau of Labor Statistics news release. “It was originally scheduled for Oct. 16. The index is a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services.”

The release was delayed because of the “lapse in appropriations” during the government shutdown.

The Social Security Act specifies a formula for determining each COLA. According to the formula, COLAs are based on increases in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). CPI-Ws are calculated on a monthly basis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


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Obama Says Budget Proposal Offers ‘Manageable’ Curbs on Medicare Cost, Social Security Benefits

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How Chained Consumer Price Index Proposed by Obama Works to Curb Social Security Benefits

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Read more Social Security News

also check Medicare and Senior Politics


A COLA effective for December of the current year is equal to the percentage increase (if any) in the average CPI-W for the third quarter of the current year over the average for the third quarter of the last year in which a COLA became effective.

If there is an increase, it must be rounded to the nearest tenth of one percent. If there is no increase, or if the rounded increase is zero, there is no COLA.

Assuming there will be an increase in the COLA, benefits will increase beginning with the December 2013 benefits, which are payable in January 2014. Federal SSI payment levels will also increase by the same percent effective for payments made for January 2014. Because the normal SSI payment date is the first of the month and January 1 is a holiday, the SSI payments for January are always made at the end of the previous December.

With only the cost of living change for September to go to complete the calculation, the 2014 COLA is expected be about 1.5%, although recent predictions have placed it even lower.

If 1.5% proves to be correct, then the average COLA paid over the past five years was will be 1.4%, according to Shannon Benton, Executive Director of The Senior Citizens League.  

“This would be a record low period since the COLA became automatic,” she adds.

“The purpose of the COLA,” according to SSA, “is to ensure that the purchasing power of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits is not eroded by inflation. It is based on the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) from the third quarter of the last year a COLA was determined to the third quarter of the current year. If there is no increase, there can be no COLA.”

This year, there is also concern among senior citizens and their advocates about the possible change of the CPI, since President Obama suggested earlier that the annual COLA should be based on an inflation measure known as the “Chained CPI.” Identified as “C-CPI,”

he chained CPI, according to AARP, “measures living costs differently because it assumes that when prices for one thing go up, people sometimes settle for cheaper substitutes (if beef prices go up, for example, they'll buy more chicken and less beef).

“Bottom line: Cost-of-living adjustments would be lower with the chained CPI than with the plain old CPI. So depending on which formula is used, the amount of your Social Security payments could change over time.


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