WASHINGTON — Inflation slowed slightly from a four-decade peak last month, but it's still high -- leaving seniors wondering about the cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) for Social Security recipients next year.
The Senior Citizens League, a non-partisan advocacy group for seniors, estimates that the COLA for 2023 may be 9.6%, based on consumer price data released Wednesday by the government. If the current estimate holds, it would be the highest COLA since 1981 when it was 11.2%.
We won't know the 2023 COLA for sure until October, when the Social Security Administration announces it. Last year's COLA was 5.9%, the highest in 39 years. Over the previous 10 years, it averaged about 1.7% annually as inflation remained low.
TSCL's current COLA prediction marks a drop from the one it calculated last month -- 10.5% -- when consumer price data showed inflation at a 40-year high.
How much more would Social Security recipients get in 2023?
The exact amount depends on your monthly Social Security retirement benefit. TSCL said for the average benefit of $1,656, the projected COLA would add $159.00 for a total of $1,815.
There's also time for circumstances to change. TSCL said depending on whether inflation runs higher or lower than current averages, its COLA estimate could range from 9.3% to 10.1%
The Social Security Administration has two more months of data to factor into its COLA, so the actual increase may vary.
Can Social Security keep paying large COLAs?
Social Security trustees said in their report this year that Social Security’s trust fund will be unable to pay full benefits beginning in 2035. This date was pushed back a year from the previous estimate due to stronger-than-expected economic recovery.
Social Security pays benefits to more than 65 million Americans, mainly retirees as well as disabled people and survivors of deceased workers. When the Social Security trust fund is depleted, the government will be able to pay 80% of scheduled benefits, the report said.
Such a reduction would represent a major hardship for most people who depend on Social Security, even middle-class retirees.