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AARP's Social Security Q&A Tool

How does the Social Security COLA work?

En español | The cost of living adjustment (COLA) is based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a measure of inflation that the U.S. Commerce Department calculates by tracking changes in the prices of certain goods and services. Every fall, officials examine the CPI numbers. If they show inflation, beneficiaries receive an increase in their checks starting the following January. With consumer prices down, as measured by the CPI in the fall of 2015, monthly Social Security benefits did not automatically increase for 2016.  This is the third time since 1975 that benefits have not increased.  There were no COLA increases for 2010 and 2011.  There was a 1.7 percent increase in 2015 and 1.5 percent in 2014.

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