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Why the Social Security COLA Might Not Be Enough

Why the Social Security COLA Might Not Be Enough

February 05, 2024

Recently, I was quoted in a Newsweek article discussing the concerning state of Social Security COLA (Cost of Living Adjustments). The essence of the matter is clear: the current trajectory of COLA increases might not adequately keep up with the soaring inflation rates affecting essential goods like food and healthcare. You can read the full article here

Inflation is an economic reality that impacts everyone, but it disproportionately affects seniors and retirees living on fixed incomes. The premise behind the Social Security COLA is supposed to cushion the blow of rising costs by adjusting benefits to match the rate of inflation. However, as we've seen in recent years, the formula might not be accurately reflecting the true cost increases experienced by many Americans.

The problem lies in the method used to calculate the COLA. It's tied to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), which measures the spending habits of urban workers. While this index provides a general picture of inflation, it might not accurately reflect the specific expenses faced by seniors, especially when it comes to healthcare and housing.

Furthermore, the current inflationary environment is volatile and unpredictable. The massive spikes in food prices and healthcare costs aren't likely to be fully captured by the COLA adjustments. As a result, seniors could find themselves struggling to make ends meet as their purchasing power diminishes.

What's even more concerning is the possibility of a slowing inflation rate. While this might seem like good news on the surface, it could actually exacerbate the problem for Social Security beneficiaries. A lower inflation rate means smaller COLA adjustments, further eroding the value of benefits over time.

So, what can be done to address this issue? Advocacy and awareness are key. Americans need to be vigilant about the impact of inflation on Social Security benefits and press for a more accurate and fair method of calculating COLA adjustments.

In conclusion, while the upcoming Social Security increase might offer some relief, it's crucial to remain cautious. The current COLA system may not be sufficient to keep pace with the true cost of living, especially for seniors and retirees. As we navigate these challenges, it's essential to advocate for policies that ensure the financial security and well-being of all Americans.

Stay informed, stay engaged, and together, we can work towards a more equitable future.

9i Capital Group LLC is a registered investment adviser.  Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies.  Investments involve risk and, unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed.  Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance.