Making sense of the disability system: cost of living increases

Earlier this week, the Social Security Administration announced an annual cost-of-living adjustment that disability benefits recipients can expect to receive in 2013. As is usually the case, the increase will be slight — 1.7 percent to be exact, which would amount to an extra $18.89 a month or $227 a year for someone receiving an “average” benefit.

Still, this is better than 2010 and 2011 when Oregon disability recipients received no cost-of-living increase at all. Every little bit helps.

How does the SSA determine whether or not disability benefits should increase and if so, by how much? The agency’s website puts it like this:

The purpose of the COLA is to ensure that the purchasing power of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits is not eroded by inflation. It is based on the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) from the third quarter of the last year a COLA was determined to the third quarter of the current year. If there is no increase, there can be no COLA.

As part of the announcement, the SSA also cautioned that the COLA increase for next year may be partially or completely offset by expected Medicare premium increases for some beneficiaries.

In case you were wondering, last year’s COLA (2012) increase was 3.6 percent, which raised the monthly benefit payment for disabled workers who received the “average” amount by $39 a month, and by $66 a month for disabled workers with a spouse and one or more children.

Source:, “Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) Information for 2013,” Oct. 16, 2012

By |2019-02-08T21:08:40+00:00October 19th, 2012|Social Security Disability|0 Comments
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