Home » Social Security Cost of Living Increase Set at 3.2% for 2024

Social Security Cost of Living Increase Set at 3.2% for 2024

by Jack B.
COLA increase

Millions of Social Security recipients are set to see a higher benefits payment in 2024, with the annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) increasing checks by 3.2%. This news may come as a relief to many retirees and disabled individuals facing high inflation. 

Struggling with Rising Costs 

Bob, 67, retired just before the pandemic and has found himself financially squeezed in recent years. “Everything seems to be going up except my fixed income,” he says. As a heart patient, medical costs consume much of his monthly Social Security benefits. The latest COLA increase will provide some welcomed breathing room, though prices are still up overall. Many who depend heavily on these payments share Bob’s worries about making ends meet as inflation persists.

How the COLA is Calculated

The Social Security Administration bases the annual COLA on inflation data from the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). They review the average percent change in prices between the third quarter of the current and preceding years. The new raised amount takes effect in January, though recipients have already experienced higher costs. Some argue an alternate measure better reflects retiree spending habits.  

Varied Impact on Beneficiaries

In addition to retired workers, the COLA hike will also help the millions receiving Supplemental Security Income or disability benefits. The average retiree can anticipate an extra $59 monthly, bringing their payment to $1,907. However, inflation in other expenditures like Medicare premiums and housing may diminish some of this increase. Those relying solely on fixed incomes remain vulnerable to rising living expenses.


Looming Financial Issues

While the COLA protects against inflation, long-term funding challenges loom large if left unaddressed. The program’s trust funds are projected to run out of reserves by 2035. At that point, payroll taxes may only cover around 80% of scheduled benefits. With more retirees and an aging population, tax hikes or cuts seem inevitable down the road to maintain solvency. Lawmakers have yet to find a consensus on resolving the projected shortfall.

Outlook for 2024 and Beyond  

The next year may still bring economic uncertainty even as inflation hopefully continues moderating. The Fed remains committed to curbing prices through interest rate hikes, though a recession also threatens. As costs remain historically high, the recent COLA increase offers temporary relief but substantial long-term questions around Social Security persist. How elected officials and policymakers choose to address these complex financing issues will shape the program’s viability and millions of citizens’ retirement security for decades ahead.

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