Do You Get Cost Of Living Increases If You Receive Social Security Disability Or SSI?
If Social Security gives a cost of living increase for a given year, then all Social Security, disability, survivor, retirement, and SSI disability beneficiaries will receive it.
Cost of living increases (COLAS) begin in December of each year for Social Security beneficiaries, and on December 30 for SSI beneficiaries, so that all beneficiaries have an increase in the benefits they receive in January of the year the cost of living increase is given.
When the Social Security program began in 1935, it was thought that an individual would receive the same benefits for a lifetime. Congress first legislated annual cost of living increases in 1950, however these were not automatic. Congress had to create special legislation for each year there was a Social Security cost of living increase. It was not until 1972 that Congress enacted the COLA provision that allowed automatic annual cost of living increases.
The function of a COLA is to make sure that the purchasing power of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security benefits is not eroded by inflation. Social Security bases the amount of the COLA on a percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index (Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers) from the third quarter of the year of the last COLA to the third quarter of the current year. If there is no increase in the Consumer Price Index, there can be no COLA.
In 2009 and 2010 there were no COLA increases because Consumer Price Index for inflation had not increased to an amount larger than the third quarter of 2008. These were the first years that there was no COLA increase since 1975.
About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
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