No Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustment for 2016

SSA logoThere will be no cost of living adjustment for Social Security recipients for 2016, according to a Press Release from the Social Security Administration (see below for full text).

Senator Elizabeth Warren states:

Two-thirds of seniors rely on Social Security for the majority of their income and for fifteen million seniors, Social Security is the only thing standing between them and poverty. Yesterday’s announcement from the Social Security Administration that seniors won’t get any cost of living raise at all this year – something that has only happened two other times since 1975 and at a time when seniors are facing more expensive housing and medical expenses – will squeeze seniors even further. We need to focus on protecting and expanding the Social Security benefits Americans have earned – not make it harder for seniors to make ends meet.

From the Social Security Administration website:

With consumer prices down over the past year, monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for nearly 65 million Americans will not automatically increase in 2016.

The Social Security Act provides for an automatic increase in Social Security and SSI benefits if there is an increase in inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). The period of consideration includes the third quarter of the last year a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) was made to the third quarter of the current year. As determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there was no increase in the CPI-W from the third quarter of 2014 to the third quarter of 2015. Therefore, under existing law, there can be no COLA in 2016.

Other adjustments that would normally take effect based on changes in the national average wage index also will not take effect in January 2016. Since there is no COLA, the statute also prohibits a change in the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax, as well as the retirement earnings test exempt amounts. These amounts will remain unchanged in 2016. The attached fact sheet provides more information on 2016 Social Security and SSI changes.

The Department of Health and Human Services has not yet announced Medicare premium changes for 2016. Should there be an increase in the Medicare Part B premium, the law contains a “hold harmless” provision that protects approximately 70 percent of Social Security beneficiaries from paying a higher Part B premium, in order to avoid reducing their net Social Security benefit. Those not protected include higher income beneficiaries subject to an income-adjusted Part B premium and beneficiaries newly entitled to Part B in 2016. In addition, beneficiaries who have their Medicare Part B premiums paid by state medical assistance programs will see no change in their Social Security benefit. The state will be required to pay any Medicare Part B premium increase.

Information about Medicare changes for 2016, when available, will be found at www.medicare.gov.

For additional information, please go to www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.

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