For the first time since automatic cost of living adjustments (COLA) were instituted in 1975, recipients of Social Security and Social Security Disability received no COLA increases to their benefits in both 2010 and 2011. The stagnancy was blamed on the economy and the low inflation of rate due to the economic recession.
Next year, however, Social Security and Social Security Disability recipients will finally receive the COLA increase that so many desperately need. According to the Social Security Administration, seniors and the disabled will see a 3.6 increase in their benefits beginning in January.
In addition, the approximately 8 million Americans who receive Supplemental Security Income recipients will also receive benefit increases. All together, about one in five U.S. residents will see their income increase by 3.6 percent as a result of the COLA.
While any increase is a good thing for seniors and the disabled, advocates claim that the additional income will not be enough to keep up with rising health care costs. According to Nancy Altman of the Strengthen Social Security Campaign, out-of-pocket health care costs rose by more than 14 percent for seniors and people with disabilities over the last two years despite the lack of a COLA.
Following the COLA announcement, economists began to predict that the increase would have a positive effect on consumer spending and on the economy as a whole. However, the average Social Security, SSD or SSI recipient will only receive about $40 per month, leading many to conclude that the additional amounts received will probably be too small to make much of a difference to the battered economy.
Source: Sign On San Diego, “Social Security Recipients To Get 3.6 Percent More,” Stephen Ohlemacher, Oct. 19, 2011