Since 1975, Social Security benefits have been indexed using cost-of-living adjustments, with increases ranging from 0% to a high of 14.3% in 1980. After the administration announced a higher-than-normal cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2022, Social Security beneficiaries will experience the highest rise in benefits in 40 years. The COLA for 2022 was 5.9%, which was somewhat higher than the 5.8% increase announced in 2008.
Inflationary escalation to modest increases
In the early years of indexing benefits to inflation, soaring inflation and severe unemployment forced Congress to act once more, and quickly. It was predicted in the 1980s that the old-age and survivors insurance (OASI) Trust Fund would be unable to pay benefits on time if reforms were not implemented. As a result, in 1983, legislation was passed that gradually increased the age of eligibility while keeping the same level of retirement benefits. Benefits were boosted by 14.3 percent in 1980, which was the largest cost-of-living adjustment since 1950. Inflation has been brought under control in the decades since, limiting annual COLA rises, but there have been spikes during economic shocks like the covid-19 epidemic and its aftermath.
2022 COLA highest in 40 years
COLAs have increased by an average of 1.7 percent per year over the last 10 years, with increases ranging from zero percent in 2016 to 3.6 percent in 2012. The growth for 2022 is currently an outlier at 5.9%, the biggest since 1982, when it was 7.4%, just beating the 5.8% increase in 2008.
When Social Security payments are based on the cost-of-living adjustment when the boost takes effect, this year’s increase means $92 more each month in dollar terms. This corresponds to $1,657 per month for the average retired Social Security recipient. Benefits increased by only $20 the previous year due to a 1.3 percent COLA increase, bringing the average monthly payment to $1,565.
Despite the fact that inflation is projected to continue high until the end of the year, the Federal Reserve predicts that it will fall to around 2% next year.