(NEXSTAR) – Social Security recipients are getting a 3.2% increase to their monthly benefits come next year.
On Thursday morning, the Social Security Administration officially announced its annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for beneficiaries starting in 2024. The bump, at 3.2%, is among some of the largest increases over the past few decades, but a significantly smaller bump than the 8.7% adjustment recipients got in 2023.
“Social Security and SSI benefits will increase in 2024, and this will help millions of people keep up with expenses,” Kilolo Kijakazi, the acting commissioner of Social Security, said in a news release issued Thursday.
The Social Security Administration’s annual cost-of-living adjustments are designed to help Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients retain their buying power amid rising inflation. These increases, which are issued annually, are determined using the Bureau of Labor’s Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), which itself is a measure of the change in prices for common consumer goods and services.
The latest CPI-W, which measured prices throughout September, was released Thursday morning. The data indicated a 0.2% increase in the CPI-W during the month and a 3.6% increase over the last 12 months.
Despite a 3.2% bump in benefits come 2024, the Senior Citizen’s League (TSCL), a nonpartisan senior advocacy group, had previously warned that such an increase would likely not be enough to cover seniors’ rising cost of living. The reason, according to the group, is largely due to their feeling that the CPI-W does not accurately reflect the spending habits of seniors, who tend to spend larger portions of their income on groceries and prescription medication than other age groups.
“We want to see an approach that’s more comprehensive than that,” Mary Johnson, the Social Security and Medicare policy analyst for TSCL, told Nexstar in 2022. “People are also living longer lives in retirement, so it’s hard for anyone to save for that.”
The AARP, in a statement issued Thursday morning, also called on lawmakers to strengthen Social Security.
“AARP is urging Congress to work in a bipartisan way to keep Social Security strong and to provide American workers and retirees with a long-term solution that both current and future retirees can count on,” Jo Ann Jenkins, the AARP CEO, said. “Americans work hard to earn their Social Security, and it’s only fair for them to get the money they deserve.”
Jenkins also said that while seniors are feeling the “sting” of rising prices, perhaps they can “rest a little easier at night” thanks to next year’s increase.
The increased benefits are payable starting January 2024 for Social Security recipients. (The exact date depends on the recipient’s birthday.) Those receiving SSI will see their first adjusted benefits near the end of December 2023.