Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) announced that Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for approximately 70 million Americans will increase 5.9 percent in 2022 thanks to this year’s cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).
“As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee’s Subcommittee on Social Security, I have fought for critically important earned benefits for Alabama’s seniors,” said Rep. Sewell. “A nearly 6% cost-of-living adjustment is great news for seniors who have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this COLA increase is not a substitute for congressional action. Social Security is one of our nation’s most trusted and successful programs and serves as a lifeline for countless Alabamians. I will continue to do everything in my power to protect and expand Social Security so that all workers can retire with dignity.”
In Alabama’s 7th District alone, there are 157,219 Social Security beneficiaries including 9,945 widowers and 16,459 children. For many, Social Security benefits are a lifeline and help cover the costs of basic necessities like food, rent, health care, and medications.
The COLA protects benefits against losing their purchasing power over time when the cost of rent, food, and other expenses increase. Medicare premiums – which are deducted from Social Security checks for most beneficiaries – typically consume much of the COLA increase. One study found that over the past 20 years, the increase in premiums has averaged 5.9 percent annually while COLAs have averaged 2.2 percent annually. Because “a larger and larger chunk of the Social Security benefit goes to health insurance, […] the net benefit available for non-health expenditures does not keep pace with inflation.” This demonstrates that while COLA increases are critical, they are not a substitute for robust congressional action.
The 5.9 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 64 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2022. Increased payments to approximately 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 30, 2021. (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits). The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Social Security and SSI beneficiaries are normally notified by mail starting in early December about their new benefit amount. Most people who receive Social Security payments will be able to view their COLA notice online through their personal my Social Security account. People may create or access their my Social Security account online at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.
The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated. To read more, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.