CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Millions of Americans on Social Security will soon have more money in their pockets. Retirees will get a 5.9% increase in benefits for 2022. That’s the highest cost-of-living adjustment in nearly 40 years.
The increase in benefits is due to inflation. Prices are very high for items such as food and gas, and supply chain issues continue to drive up the cost of goods.
The cost-of-living adjustment (or COLA, as it’s commonly called) amounts to an added $92 a month for the average retired worker, according to estimates Wednesday from the Social Security Administration. It’s an abrupt break from a long lull in inflation that saw cost-of-living adjustments averaging just 1.65% a year over the past 10 years.
With the increase, the estimated average Social Security payment for a retired worker will be $1,657 a month next year. A typical couple’s benefits would rise by $154 to $2,753 per month.
“Any help we can provide, particularly for those living on fixed income, is so crucial key at this moment in time,” said Tom Hunter, Associate State Director of AARP West Virginia.
Social Security impacts about one in five Americans nationwide, about 70 million people.
About half of seniors live in households where Social Security benefits account for at least 50% of their income, and one-quarter rely on their monthly payment for all or nearly all their earnings. For this latter group, the COLA can literally make a difference in what they’re able to put on the table.
“We urge policymakers to work together to ensure the long-term solvency and adequacy of social security moving forward,” Hunter said.
Increased payments to SSI beneficiaries will begin on Dec. 30, 2021.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.