The announcement of the increase in monthly Social Security benefits is expected in less than two weeks — a number that will allow seniors and those getting other Social Security checks to budget for the coming year.
What they have to budget with — next year’s cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) — will not reach the level of increase seen in 2023. But what the number is is not set in stone yet.
The exact increase depends on a number set to come out on Oct. 12.
On that day, the September Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics will be released.
That September number plus the CPI-W numbers for July and August are added together and averaged, then compared with the third quarter average of those three numbers from last year. The percentage difference is the amount this year’s COLA will be. The increase will be seen in checks beginning in January 2024.
Unless September’s CPI-W number is beyond what is expected, most people who analyze Social Security benefits expect a 3.2% COLA.
Labor Department data show that the CPI Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers rose 3.4% in August, up from 2.6% in July.
The Senior Citizens League, a non-partisan seniors advocacy group, upped its estimated COLA increase from 3.0% to 3.2% after the August CPI-W, 3.4%, was reported.
A 3.2% COLA would add about $59 to the average monthly benefit, the group says.
While every dollar counts, the increase is far less than this year’s 8.7% COLA, which put an extra $146 a month in the pockets of Social Security recipients.
With a 3.2% increase, here is the additional amount per month a person getting the average Social Security benefit can expect in monthly checks:
- Retired workers: An increase of $58.89 a month.
- Spouses: An increase of $28.47 a month.
- Survivors: An increase of $46.54 a month.
- Disabled workers: An increase of $47.58 a month.