Social Security checks getting big boost as inflation rises

WASHINGTON (AP) — Millions of retirees on Social Security will get a 5.9% boost in benefits for 2022. The biggest cost-of-living adjustment in 39 years follows a burst in inflation as the economy struggles to shake off the drag of the coronavirus pandemic. The benefits increase amounts to $92 a month for the average retired worker, according to estimates released Wednesday by the Social Security Administration.

The increase affects household budgets for about 1 in 5 Americans, nearly 70 million people, including Social Security recipients, disabled veterans and federal retirees.

Policymakers say it’s a safeguard to protect benefits against a loss of purchasing power, and not a pay raise for retirees.

This AP digital embed chart shows the annual cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security recipients since 1990, including December’s 5.9% hike. This chart is current as of Oct. 13, 2021 and will not be updated. Source: Social Security Administration.

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The Social Security Administration revealed the new 5.9% COLA on Wednesday. Compare it with the last 10 years, when the cost-of-living adjustment averaged about 1.7% annually as inflation remained low. But the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic has seen rising prices for a wide range of goods and services, and that’s going to translate to bigger checks for retirees.

The COLA for 2022 is the largest since a 7.4% increase for 1983, nearly 40 years ago. The COLA was 5.8% for 2009.