Social Security – SSA Announces Cost of Living Increases for 2019

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced a 2.8 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits in 2019. The Social Security Act provides for annual COLA increases based on inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). Because the CPI-W rose modestly over the last year, the 2019 COLA will increase benefits modestly. According to SSA, the average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker will increase by $39, from $1,422 in 2018 to $1,461 in 2019. The average monthly benefit for a Social Security disabled worker beneficiary will increase by $34, from $1,222 in 2018 to $1,234 in 2019. In addition, the SSI Federal Payment Standard will increase from $750 per month in 2018 to $771 per month in 2019. Important work incentive thresholds for Social Security and SSI beneficiaries with disabilities will also increase, including the Substantial Gainful Activity level and the Trial Work Period earnings level. View SSA’s fact sheet for more details on the 2019 Social Security COLA.

Social Security Administration Announces Cost of Living Increases for 2015

On October 22, 2014 the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced a 1.7 percent cost-of-living increase for 2015. This modest increase will help preserve the buying power of Social Security benefits for nearly 64 million Americans, including many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who receive benefits under our nation’s Social Security system.  According to SSA, the average monthly Social Security retirement benefit will increase by $22, from $1,306 in 2014 to $1,328 in 2015. The average monthly benefit for a Social Security “disabled worker” beneficiary will increase by $19, from $1,146 in 2014 to $1,165 in 2015.  Higher Medicare premiums will offset some of this increase. Changes in Medicare premiums for 2015 are available at Medicare.gov.  To read more, visit The Arc’s blog.

Social Security Announces 1.5% Benefit Increase for 2014

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced a 1.5 percent benefit cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2014. This modest increase will help preserve the buying power of Social Security benefits for nearly 63 million Americans, including many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), who receive benefits under the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) systems.

The COLA means that the average monthly Social Security benefit will increase by about $17, from roughly $1,160 currently to about $1,177.

Unlike in many past years, Medicare premiums will stay the same in 2014 for most beneficiaries. This means that Social Security beneficiaries will be able to keep more of their 2014 benefit increase. To read more, visit The Arc’s blog.

Bills to Strengthen Social Security Financing and Benefits Introduced

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) have introduced related bills to apply Social Security payroll taxes to all income above $250,000, significantly strengthening Social Security’s long term finances (Keeping Our Social Security Promises Act, S. 500 and No Loopholes in Social Security Taxes Act, H.R. 1029). S. 500 was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance; H.R. 1029 was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) has introduced the Strengthening Social Security Act. The bill would change the method for calculating Social Security benefits, increasing benefits by approximately $70 per month. The bill also seeks to ensure that cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) adequately reflect beneficiaries’ living expenses, by basing the Social Security COLAs on the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E). Finally, the bill would phase out the current taxable cap of $113,700 so that payroll taxes apply fairly to all wages. Combined, these changes will increase benefits for current and future beneficiaries while extending the life of the Trust Fund through approximately 2049.

The Arc supports efforts to strengthen the long-term solvency of the Social Security Trust Funds and to ensure that benefits are adequate, and supports both of these bills.

The Arc Releases New Resource on the Chained CPI, a Benefit Cut

The Arc has released a new issue of National Policy Matters, “The Chained CPI Cuts Social Security and SSI: What Disability Advocates Need to Know.” With ongoing Congressional discussions over deficit reduction, The Arc is very concerned about threats to Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). These lifelines provide essential financial security for millions of Americans, including people with disabilities. The Arc believes that Social Security and SSI should not be part of deficit reduction, and that any changes to these systems must be carefully evaluated in terms of their effects on beneficiaries. This issue of National Policy Matters looks at one major threat to Social Security and SSI, the chained Consumer Price Index (“chained CPI”).

  • The chained CPI cuts Social Security and SSI benefits by reducing annual cost of living increases. Cuts add up significantly over time and would disproportionately harm people with disabilities.
  • The chained CPI also cuts veterans pensions and certain military and civilian retirement benefits, and would limit eligibility for over 30 vital programs such as Medicaid, Head Start, and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
  • The public strongly opposes cutting Social Security, including through the chained CPI.

Visit The Arc’s website to read more and download the National Policy Matters.

The Arc Opposes Benefit Cuts in the Washington Post

The Washington Post printed a letter by The Arc’s Marty Ford voicing our concern that using the “chained CPI” to calculate Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLAs) would be a less accurate measure of inflation and a harmful benefit cut.

Bill Introduced to Strengthen Cost-of-Living Adjustments, Long-Term Financing

Last week, Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) introduced S. 3651 the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act. The bill proposes using a more appropriate method of calculating cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for Social Security benefits, the Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers (CPI-E). The CPI-E takes into account costs and spending patterns for the elderly, such as average higher spending on medicines. Beneficiaries would receive slightly higher COLAs, on average, under the CPI-E as compared with an index that is currently used to calculate the Social Security COLA. The bill would also apply Social Security payroll taxes to all income, lifting the current cap that exempts annual income over approximately $114,000 from payroll taxes. This will help to ensure the long-term solvency of the Social Security system. The Arc supports efforts to ensure that Social Security benefits are adequate and that the system remains financially strong.

Cost of living increase for 2013

Last month, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced a 1.7 percent cost-of-living increase for 2013. This modest increase will help preserve the buying power of Social Security benefits for nearly 62 million Americans, including many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who receive benefits under the Social Security retirement, survivors’, and disability systems.

According to SSA, the average monthly retirement benefit will increase by $21, from $1,240 in 2012 to $1,261 in 2013. The average monthly benefit for a “disabled worker” will increase by $19, from $1,113 in 2012 to $1,132 in 2013.

To read more visit our blog.

Bill introduced to base annual cost-of-living adjustments on seniors’ living expenses

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) introduced S. 1876, the Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers Act of 2011. The bill would base annual Social Security cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) on an inflation index geared toward the goods and services consumed by older Americans, known as the CPI-E. By law, Social Security COLAs are currently based on a Consumer Price Index (CPI) designed for employed urban and clerical workers, known as the CPI-W. The CPI-W does not fully reflect costs that make up a large portion of seniors’ budgets, such as health care costs. Switching to the CPI-E would better reflect changes in consumer prices for seniors and people with disabilities, and would typically result in larger COLAs. The Arc strongly supports efforts to ensure adequate benefit levels and protect buying power through appropriate COLAs.

Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction holds 4th public hearing

Committee Co-Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) urged Republicans at the hearing to consider the efforts of bipartisan groups that wrote proposals in 2010 to reduce the deficit by about $4 trillion through a combination of cuts in entitlement programs (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security) and discretionary spending, as well as revenue increases.  Witnesses at the Nov. 1 hearing included the authors of the plans developed by National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform and the Bipartisan Policy Center. Witnesses explained their positions on numerous deficit reduction strategies, including block granting Medicaid, imposing per capita caps, and requiring managed care for dual eligibles (those eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare). Visit deficitreduction.gov to view the archived webcast of the Nov 1 hearing.

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction appears to remain deeply divided over how much revenue a deficit reduction package should raise. Democrats are pushing for a net tax increase of $1.3 trillion over 10 years, while Republicans have opposed any measure that could be construed as raising taxes.  The Committee held no closed door meetings last week – a development which is being widely interpreted as a standstill in the negotiations. Lack of discussion following the release two weeks ago of widely differing plans by the Committee’s Democratic and Republican Members does not bode well for the Committee to meet its November 23 deadline for submitting a plan. Meanwhile, some of the House’s most ardent defenders of Social Security have indicated a willingness to consider using a different measure of inflation to calculate cost of living adjustments (COLAs). The proposed measure, the “chained” consumer price index (CPI), would result in lower COLAs for people with disabilities and others who receive Social Security benefits.