Social Security benefits rising 2.8 percent, biggest hike in 7 years

Marco Green
October 12, 2018

HHS Secretary Alex Azar on efforts to reduce drug prices, the opioid epidemic and preparations for the upcoming flu season.

The 2019 cost-of-living increase will be 2.8%, the Social Security Administration announced Thursday.

But the Social Security announcement also serves as the baseline for a host of other federal benefits calculations that do require yearly reauthorization, including Department of Veterans Affairs payouts.

Though the difference may seem modest, it's the highest increase for social security checks in seven years.

By law, the annual cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, is based on a broad official measure of consumer prices.

The cost-of-living adjustment in 2018 was 2 percent, or $26 per month on average, but was largely perceived to be offset by increases in Medicare costs.

Senior advocacy groups hailed the increase but said it still wasn't enough to cover the living costs of older Americans. Advocates for seniors claim that the inflation index doesn't accurately capture costs faced by seniors, especially health care.

"We need to strengthen and expand Social Security with COLAs that reflect the real expenses seniors face", said Richard Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, which is supported by major labor unions.

Last year, social security checks went up by 2 percent.

More than 62 million retirees will receive a bump in benefits starting in January, which would mean an extra $39 a month for the average retired worker.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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