**Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustment to Slow Down in 2024**
The Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is expected to decrease for 2024, following a period of significant increases over the past two years. This adjustment reflects the recent slowdown in inflation, which has impacted Social Security beneficiaries. While the official figure for 2024 has not yet been announced, analysts predict that it will be around 3%. Although this is less than half of this year’s increase, it is still higher than many recent years, as the average COLA over the past two decades has been 2.6%.
**Impacts of a 3% Increase in the COLA**
If the COLA for 2024 increases by 3%, the average Social Security check will see an additional $53.60. Beneficiaries will start receiving this adjustment in January 2024. However, the final payment will depend on whether or not beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare, as Part B premiums are automatically deducted from Social Security checks. The Medicare Trustees previously predicted that Part B premiums will increase from $164.90 in 2023 to $174.80 in 2024, but the actual increase may be even higher.
**Importance of Social Security Benefits for Retirees**
Approximately 67 million Americans receive Social Security benefits, with the majority being retirees. These benefits play a vital role in the lives of elderly Americans, particularly those with low income. Many retirees rely solely on these monthly federal benefits and lack other sources of income or savings. In fact, Social Security is considered a “key” anti-poverty program for the elderly.
**Calculation of the COLA**
The COLA is determined based on the average annual increases in the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers during the months of July through September in the preceding year.
**Challenges Faced by Seniors on Fixed Incomes**
While inflation has been moderating, hitting a two-year low of 3% in June, it has still posed challenges for seniors and individuals with fixed incomes. The combination of inflation and a volatile stock market has adversely affected seniors, who have had to manage their budgets carefully. Some have been forced to make difficult choices about what expenses to prioritize as their budgets have become stretched thin. Additionally, healthcare costs are a major concern for many retirees.
**Impact of Inadequate COLAs on Social Security Benefits**
According to the Senior Citizens League, Social Security benefits have lost over 30% of their purchasing power since 2000 due to inadequate COLAs. This has raised concerns about the ability of Social Security benefits to keep up with rising costs of living.
In conclusion, the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment is set to slow down in 2024, reflecting a decrease in inflation. While the predicted increase of around 3% is lower than the recent years, it is still higher than the average for the past two decades. Social Security benefits are of crucial importance to retirees, many of whom rely solely on these federal benefits as an essential source of income. However, inadequate COLAs have impacted the purchasing power of these benefits over time. As the cost of living continues to rise, it is essential to ensure that Social Security benefits adequately keep up with these expenses to support retirees’ financial well-being.