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Cost-of-Living Adjustment is First Since 2009

By Staff | Oct 25, 2011

WASHINGTON D.C. – Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for more than 60 million Americans will increase 3.6 percent in 2012, the Social Security Administration announced.

The 3.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits that nearly 55 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2012. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 30, 2011.

Some other changes that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $110,100 from $106,800. Of the estimated 161 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2012, about 10 million will pay higher taxes as a result of the increase in the taxable maximum.

The announcement acknowledged that a forthcoming increase in monthly Medicare premiums will wipe out the increase for those who receive less than the average $1,186 benefit.

U.S. Senator Bob Casey said that the annual cost-of-living adjustment of 3.6 percent will put more money in the pockets of beneficiaries in Pennsylvania.

“The Social Security COLA will provide a needed boost to older Pennsylvanians who have gone two years without an increase.”

Following news last year that there would be no COLA adjustment for 2011, Senator Casey called for a Senate vote on legislation to provide a one-time payment of $250 to Social Security recipients to help alleviate the fiscal strain the economic downturn placed on older Pennsylvanians.

Nearly 70 percent of beneficiaries depend on Social Security for at least half of their income, and Social Security is the sole source of income for 15 percent of recipients.

Information about Medicare changes for 2012, when announced, will be available at www.Medicare.gov. For some beneficiaries, their Social Security increase may be partially or completely offset by increases in Medicare premiums.