Cuenca Expats Magazine – Issue 44

By Robert M. Ryerson

Change is a constant, especially when it comes to the financial sphere. With the turn of each year, those reliant on Social Security keenly await updates on the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA)—a vital tool that ensures beneficiaries are not left grappling with rising inflationary pressures. The Social Security Administration® (SSA) recently shed light on the adjustments for 2024, and there’s both exciting news and essential information for beneficiaries.

For the uninitiated, COLA plays a pivotal role in ensuring that the purchasing power of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits aren’t eroded by inflation. Given the sizable base of 71 million beneficiaries, any adjustment, no matter how seemingly minuscule, can profoundly impact livelihoods.

Unveiling the 2024 Social Security COLA What Beneficiaries Should Know The SSA’s COLA adjustment is tethered to the fluctuations observed in the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W). For the 2024 adjustment, the SSA considered the increase from the third quarter of 2022 up until the third quarter of 2023. This approach ensures that the adjustments are based on the most recent data, mirroring real-life inflationary pressures as closely as possible.

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So, what does 2024 have in store for Social Security recipients?

A 3.2% adjustment awaits beneficiaries starting January. At first glance, this might seem like a step-down, especially when juxtaposed against the preceding year’s more generous 8.7% hike. However, to put things into perspective, this year’s adjustment still outpaces the two-decade average of 2.6%. It’s a reminder that while yearly fluctuations are expected, the SSA continually endeavors to provide the best possible support to its beneficiaries.

When we translate this percentage into tangible monetary terms, the figures become even more salient. Come January, retirees are poised to see an average increase of $59 in their monthly benefits. This augmentation means that the estimated average monthly benefit will hover around $1,907. Such increments, when accumulated over a year, can provide much-needed relief, especially for those on fixed incomes.

Lastly, for those who are digitally inclined and have adapted to the world of online communications, the SSA has a handy update. Beneficiaries can conveniently access their COLA notices online. Starting December 2023, these will be available in the Message Center of the ‘My Social Security’ accounts. This digital initiative not only promises ease and accessibility but also expedites the dissemination of crucial information.

In closing, while adjustments like the COLA may seem mere routine financial updates, they hold significant sway in shaping the financial stability of millions. Beneficiaries must stay informed and use this information to craft an accurate financial blueprint for the upcoming year. 2024 beckons with new promises and, thanks to the SSA’s adjustments, a bit more financial breathing space.