Early Forecast: Social Security Checks Could Go Way Up

Senior Citizens League forecasts 8.6% cost-of-living adjustment
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2022 4:12 PM CDT
Updated May 15, 2022 7:00 AM CDT
Early Forecast: Social Security Checks Could Go Way Up
Trays of printed social security checks wait to be mailed from the US Treasury's Financial Management services facility in Philadelphia on Feb. 11, 2005.   (AP Photo/Bradley C. Bower, File)

(Newser) – Social Security's cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) doesn't happen until October, and it'll be based on the previous three months of inflation numbers. But a forecast from the Senior Citizens League indicates those Social Security checks could see a big hike. CBS News reports the advocacy group for older Americans projected an 8.6% increase for 2023 based on the Consumer Price Index data for April that was released Wednesday. Consumer prices were up 8.3% last month from 12 months earlier, a slightly decrease from March's 8.5% annual increase. The COLA is calculated using a slight variation of that Consumer Price Index (CPI) called the CPI-W. The CPI-W was 8.9% in April.

Some 69 million Americans collect Social Security, and their average check is about $1,658 per month. Should that 8.6% hike come to pass, that would bring it to about $1,800 in 2023. As for the Senior Citizens League's track record, it ultimately forecast a 6.1% COLA increase for 2022, versus an actual boost of 5.9%—an amount that isn't keeping up with this year's rate of inflation. The top three COLA increases since 1975 were 14.3% (1980), 11.2% (1981), and 9.9% (1979). An 8.6% increase would enter the list at No. 4. But it's possible inflation will ease over the next five months. "I think the action at the Fed is going to slow things down," Mary Johnson, Social Security and Medicare policy analyst at the Senior Citizens League, tells CNBC. (Read more Social Security stories.)

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