Top News
50 years ago, Apollo 8 astronauts delivered a timeless Christmas message | Opinion  ||   PM blames Cong for agrarian crisis in country  ||   PM Modi takes 'Quattrocchi mama' jibe at Sonia Gandhi, says Congress upset over transparent defence deals  ||   Tasks not over: BJP and Congress have much to do ahead of Lok Sabha elections  ||   After poor show in MP's Vindhya region, Congress plans vote pattern probe  ||   Malaysia says no rights to recognise Jerusalem as Israeli capital  ||   Bahrain foreign minister defends Australia's decision on Jerusalem  ||   Raje was 'careless' in fulfilling people's expectations in Rajasthan: Ashok Gehlot  ||   Has Rahul Gandhi come of age?  ||   Zoramthanga: From being an insurgent to becoming Mizoram CM  ||   Chandrababu Naidu expected to attend swearing-in of Ashok Gehlot, Kamal Nath  ||   Welfare card and social media tactics helped Kalvakuntla Chandrasekhar Rao emerge as a hero  ||   Stranded tourists on Andaman islands being moved to safety  ||   Israeli military finds 4th Hezbollah tunnel from Lebanon  ||   I became a Democrat a year ago and found my own voice. It changed everything.  ||   PM takes 'Quattrocchi mama' jibe at Sonia Gandhi, says Cong upset over transparent defence deals  ||   Carter scores 27 as Texas A&M beats No. 8 Oregon State 76-70  ||   Pig-headed Republicans are pushing America toward government-run national health care  ||   PM Modi attacks Congress over Rafale scam allegations  ||   No. 11 Stanford tops No. 3 Baylor, ends Bears' win streak  ||            

Social Security cost-of-living adjustment will raise benefits 2.8% in 2019  2 Months ago

Source:   USA Today  

Social Security is arguably the nation's most important social program, with data showing that 62 percent of aged beneficiaries lean on their monthly payout to account for at least half of their income. Further, a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities finds that 22.1 million people, including 15.1 million seniors, are kept out of poverty thanks to their Social Security checks.

With this in mind, it's only fitting that the most important event of the year for these folks is the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) announcement (i.e., the "raise" the beneficiaries will receive next year) from the Social Security Administration (SSA) during the second week of October. That announcement just happens to be today, October 11.

However, beneficiaries don't have to wait for the official announcement from the SSA to calculate their Social Security COLA for 2019. Once the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has released its September 2018 inflation data, we have all the information needed to determine how much of a raise Social Security recipients will receive next year.

You see, Social Security's inflationary tether, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), only takes into account three months of inflation data rather than a full year. The average reading of the CPI-W during the third quarter of the previous year (July through September) acts as the baseline figure, while the average reading from the third quarter of the current year is the comparison. It takes the BLS a good week or so to compile all the data for the CPI-W's main spending categories and subcategories, which is why the data release doesn't come out until the second week of the following month.

If the average reading from the third quarter of the current year rises from the average CPI-W reading from the previous year, then beneficiaries receive a raise that's commensurate with the percentage increase, rounded to the nearest 0.1 percent. And should prices fall year over year, as happened in 2010, 2011, and 2016, benefits remain static from one year to the next.

The good news for beneficiaries is that prices most definitely rose on a year-over-year basis. Let's dive in to take a precise look at how the 2019 Social Security COLA was determined.

We begin by laying out the three important CPI-W readings from the third quarter of 2017 that form the baseline figure.

If these figures are added up and divided by three (since there are three months taken into account), then the average CPI-W reading works out to 239.668.

With the release of September's CPI-W data today (October 11), we now have the final piece of the puzzle to figure out the comparison figure for 2018.

Like before, if we add these figures up and divide by three, we get an average of 246.352. If we then subtract the average third-quarter reading in Q3 2017 from the average CPI-W reading in Q3 2018, we're left with 6.684. Divide this figure by the average reading of 239.668 from the third quarter of last year, and we get a 2019 COLA of 2.8 percent when rounded to the nearest 0.1 percent. 

For context, this is the highest annual raise that beneficiaries have received in seven years. It amounts to $39 a month for the average retired worker, according to estimates released Thursday by the Social Security Administration

Of course, Social Security recipients, or should I say more specifically aged beneficiaries, aren't going to want to break out the champagne just yet. That's because the CPI-W has a natural flaw, which results in seniors losing purchasing power over time on their Social Security income.

According to a report from The Senior Citizens League, the purchasing power of Social Security dollars has declined by an almost jaw-dropping 34 percent since 2000. Put another way, what $100 worth of Social Security benefits could buy 18 years ago can now only buy $66 worth of those same goods. Inflation (i.e., the rising price of goods and services) has eaten the rest.

You're probably scratching your head and wondering how the CPI-W, which is designed to measure inflation, has allowed Social Security's COLA to so vastly underrepresent the inflation that senior citizens are facing. The answer lies with the group of folks the CPI-W is following.

In other words, seniors should definitely relish the fact that they're on track to receive their biggest COLA since 2012, but they're not going to gain any ground they've lost due to inflation since 2000.

 

The Motley Fool is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news, analysis and commentary designed to help people take control of their financial lives. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

Offer from the Motley Fool: The $16,728 Social Security bonus most retirees completely overlook
If you're like most Americans, you're a few years (or more) behind on your retirement savings. But a handful of little-known "Social Security secrets" could help ensure a boost in your retirement income. For example: one easy trick could pay you as much as $16,728 more... each year! Once you learn how to maximize your Social Security benefits, we think you could retire confidently with the peace of mind we're all after. Simply click here to discover how to learn more about these strategies.

More News
About Us Terms & Conditions Disclaimer
Advertise Contact
register and win

NRIS.COM is one of the premier NRI website that provides a range of resourceful services to Indian expats residing in the USA. Visiting the site you will find comprehensive information related to restaurants, casinos, pubs, temples, carpool, movies, education, real estate, and forums. The simple and easy to navigate format allows NRIs to gain information within a fraction of a second. Moreover, advertising through its column of Indian free classifieds in USA allow businesses to improve visibility of their brand.

MI NRI's Chat (0 Users Online)