The Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2022 is 5.9%, the largest increase since 1983. The COLA applies to December 2021 benefits, payable in January 2022. The amount is based on the increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) from Q3 of the last year a COLA was determined to Q3 of the current year (in this case, Q3 2020 to Q3 2021).
Despite these annual adjustments for inflation, a recent study found that the buying power of Social Security benefits declined by 30% from 2000 to early 2021, in part because the CPI-W is weighted more heavily toward items purchased by younger workers than by Social Security beneficiaries.
Sources: Social Security Administration, 2021; The Senior Citizens League, August 11, 2021
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