MIAMI (CBSMiami) — With consumer prices down over the past year, Americans collecting Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will not see a boost in their monthly check next year.
Consider it a drawback to inflation and gas prices staying low.
The Social Security Act allows for an automatic increase in Social Security and SSI benefits only when there is an increase in inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).
Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there was no increase in the CPI-W for this cycle, which was measured from the third quarter of 2014 to the third quarter of 2015. The index fell by 0.6% for that period. Therefore, there will be no cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in 2016.
In a press release opposing the lack of an increase, Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL09) called the announcement “terrible news for the millions of seniors, and others, who depend of these payments.”
In response, Grayson is introducing The Seniors Deserve a Raise Act which would link future COLAs to the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E).
“The fact that the SSA determines COLA using a consumer price index that is based on the spending of urban workers, and not seniors, has caused the SSA to shortchange them,” Grayson said. “For example, since seniors spend more on health care than younger people, the CPI-E uses those cost increases more to determine what COLA is appropriate.”
His bill would also try to remedy 2016’s flat COLA, calling for a 2.9% increase for Social Security and SSI benefits.
2011 was the last year that Social Security recipients did not see a COLA increase.