Starting in January, Social Security checks will increase, thanks to the cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, assessed on benefits each year. That's the biggest bump since 1981, when they rose by an all-time high of 11.2%.
"A COLA of 8.7% is extremely rare and would be the highest ever received by most Social Security beneficiaries alive today," Senior Citizens League policy analyst Mary Johnson said in a statement earlier this year.
In fact, the COLA has only risen above 7% five times since it was introduced in 1975. The 2022 COLA, in comparison, was only 5.9%.
Next year's increase represents the agency's attempt to keep up with ongoing inflation. The adjustment is determined annually by shifts in the Consumer Price Index, which charts year-over-year price fluctuations for goods and services.
Read on to learn all about 2023 Social Security benefits, including how much more you'll be getting next year and when the increase will appear in your check.
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What is the cost of living adjustment (COLA)?
Since 1975, Social Security benefits have been adjusted automatically each year, based on fluctuations in inflation, as determined by the Consumer Price Index For Urban Wage Earners And Clerical Workers. The Social Security Administration compares the average CPI-W in the three months of the third quarter of the current year to the same timeframe in the year prior.
"The COLA increase is a valuable feature that keeps retirees from truly being tied to a 'fixed income' when managing expenses," Rob Williams, managing director of financial planning at Charles Schwab, told CNET.
The benefit increase is based on third-quarter changes to the Department of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.
The CPI-W was 8.5% in July and dipped down to 8.3% in August before hitting 8.2% in September.
How much will Social Security increase in 2023?
The 2023 COLA is Social Security Administration.
Average monthly increase
Average 2023 check
Worker with disabilities
Senior couple, both receiving benefits
Widow(er) with two children
Predictions fluctuated greatly earlier this year: In June, the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated benefits would increase as much as 10.8%.
In July, Marc Goldwein, the organization's senior policy director, predicted that if inflation remained on its then-current trajectory, the increase would be 11.4%, the highest ever.
When will I know what my benefits are for 2023?
Beneficiaries should receive letters in December detailing their specific benefit rate for next year. If you miss this letter, you can still verify your increase via the My Social Security website.
When will I see the bump in my check?
The COLA goes into effect
Social Security payments are made on Wednesdays, following a rollout schedule based on the beneficiary's birth date. So if you were born from the 1st through the 10th of the month, your benefits are paid on the second Wednesday of the month.
If your birthday falls between the 11th and 20th of the month, your checks are paid on the third Wednesday, and you'll see your first COLA increase on your Jan. 18 check.
Those born between the 21st and the end of the month receive benefits on the fourth Wednesday, which, in 2023, is Jan. 25.