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How does Social Security calculate the COLA?

En español | Your Social Security payment typically is adjusted annually for inflation to ensure that the purchasing power of benefits is not eroded by rising prices. This cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, tracks inflation using the government’s measure of consumer prices for a variety of household goods and services.

Benefits go up if there is a measurable increase (at least 0.1 percent) in this price index from year to year. For 2019, the Social Security Administration implemented a 2.8 percent cost-of-living increase. The COLA was 2 percent in 2018, 0.3 percent in 2017, and there was no increase in 2016.

Keep in mind

  • Even when there is a cost-of-living adjustment, you might not see all of the increase in your benefit payment. If your Medicare Part B premiums are deducted from your Social Security (as is the case with 70 percent of Part B enrollees), a Medicare rate increase could offset the COLA.

Updated December 17, 2018

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