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COLA increase in 2017 for my Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “I have been receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for two years for my muscular dystrophy. I am having trouble purchasing groceries and paying my rent each month. I am wondering if the federal government has decided to increase SSI payments this year through a cost of living adjustment?” financial-problems-and-disability-benefits Many Americans struggle to pay for their basic necessities. This is especially true for elderly or disabled Americans who live on a fixed income. Periodically, however, the federal government does decide to increase the amount paid out in federal disability and retirement programs. If the federal government decides to increase your SSI payments this will be done through a cost of living adjustment.

What is a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)?

A COLA or cost of living adjustment is an increase in the amount of benefits paid to certain disability and Social Security benefits. According to the SSA, since 1975 the Social Security increases for benefits have been based on the increase in the cost of living, as determined by the Consumer Price Index. Note: the CPI-W is determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Department of Labor. Why do we need a cost of living adjustment? Wouldn’t it be great if 35 cents still bought a hamburger? Well, it’s not 1945 anymore, and the price and goods of services have risen dramatically. This increase is referred to as inflation. Unfortunately, when there is high inflation the amount of goods and services you can purchase for every dollar you spend decreases. For example, if the inflation rate is 2% annually, then theoretically a $1 piece of candy will cost $1.02 in a year. And in 2016 that hamburger we mentioned, well it now costs $5.95. Now back to the question. Yes, the Social Security Administration has announced that beginning in December of this year the more than eight million Americans currently receiving Supplemental Security Income will have their SSI benefits increased 0.3 percent.

What about my Medicare premiums?

If you receive Social Security retirement benefits you may have questions about your Medicare coverage. Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has not made any announcements about changes to the Medicare premiums. Information about your medical insurance will be posted on the Medicare website in 2017 at Although no one knows for sure, it’s likely for some beneficiaries, the cost of living increase (COLA) may be partially or completely offset by increases in Medicare premiums. Bottom Line: Although Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may provide some help in paying for your basic needs, relying solely on this payment to pay for all of your housing, food, clothing, and other discretionary expenses is tough for anyone. While the cost of living adjustment is coming in December, it’s not likely to be substantial enough to alleviate your financial concerns. Recent blogs: