The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently confirmed that there will not be an automatic cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) for those who receive monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits in 2011.
Under current social security laws, Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits increase automatically each year based on the inflation measure known as the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). Each prospective year’s COLA is determined based on the change in the CPI-W from the third quarter of the prior year to the current year’s third quarter. Therefore, the COLA for 2011 is based on the change in the CPI-W from the third quarter of 2009 to the third quarter of 2010. Since there was no increase in the CPI-W for that period, there would be no COLA increase for 2011.
The lack of an increase for 2011 may not come as a surprise to many, especially since there was no increase for 2010. According to the SSA, this would only be the second time since 1975 (when COLAs went into effect) that an automatic COLA will not be made.
In addition to holding Social Security and Social Security Income benefits flat for 2011, the lack of an automatic COLA increase also prevents other amounts from increasing. For example, the maximum amount of earnings that are subject to Social Security taxes for 2011 will remain at the current 2010 amount of $106,800 dollars. Also, the retirement earnings test exempt amounts for 2011 remain unchanged. If you will not reach your Normal Retirement Age (NRA) anytime during 2011, you can year $14,160 dollars before your Social Security benefits are reduced. If you will reach your NRA during 2011, you can earn $37, 680 dollars for the months in 2011 prior to reaching your NRA, before your Social Security benefits are reduced.
For more information, visit the SSA’s web site at http://www.ssa.gov/.
For additional information about the 2011 COLA, go to http://www.socialsecurity.gov/cola/.
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