The Social Security Administration announced Wednesday a 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment that will affect the monthly benefits of 58 million older Americans beginning next year.
The COLA increase will amount to about $20 a month for the typical Social Security recipient. The average monthly payment today is $1,192.
Supplemental Security Income — the disability program for the poor — will also increase by the same amount for another 8 million beneficiaries on Dec. 31. The increase is based on inflation, which is well below historical averages so far this year.
Reaction to the announcement was tepid, at best.
“This is the third consecutive year, and the fifth time in six years, that the increase will be less than 2 percentage points,” said David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal employee union.
“The costs for items that most seniors spend their money on – health care and groceries – are rising faster than the overall inflation rate. For instance, premiums for retirees and current employees in the federal health insurance program will rise 3.8 percent next year,” Cox said.
Cox said that while some increase is better than none, for seniors, the annual increases “will be gone before most even receive them.”
AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins called the COLA increase “modest” and a “partial protection against inflation.”
While overall inflation has been low, federal retirees face a 3.8 percent increase in their health insurance premiums next year. That elicited a note of displeasure from the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association.