Why a 6% increase in Social Security may fall short

social security cola inflation seniors

Why a historic 6% increase in Social Security benefits may not be enough for seniors

Social Security recipients are slated to receive a six percent cost of living adjustment or COLA in 2022, that thanks to a historic spike in inflation. The benefits increase would be the largest in nearly four decades. But would an increase in monthly benefits actually offset the ravages of inflation? Most likely not and here’s why.

Cost of living adjustments trail increases in the CPI or Consumer Price Index as 2022 benefits are based on the CPI through the 3rd quarter of 2021. That means should inflation continue to surge, which is likely, older Americans would find themselves with less purchasing power despite a benefit increase.

Further eroding any boost in monthly Social Security benefits are Medicare Part B premium increases. CNBC reports that from 2000 to 2020, Social Security benefits had an average annual increase of 2.2%, while Medicare Part B premiums went up by 5.9%. While a ‘hold harmless’ provision in Medicare prohibits Medicare premium hikes from reducing Social Security payouts below their current dollar value, retirees still see an effective benefit reduction thanks to inflation- whether it be moderate or severe. Then there’s the tax bite with up to 85% of Social Security benefits being taxable for individuals earning over $25,000 and couples earning over $32,000 per year.

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