(NEXSTAR) — The next cost-of-living increase for Social Security recipients is projected to be slightly higher than estimated in previous months, though still dramatically less than the 8.7% beneficiaries received in 2023, the Senior Citizen’s League predicts.
The Senior Citizen’s League (TSCL), a nonpartisan senior advocacy group, had previously estimated in mid-August that 2024’s COLA increase would be 3%, based on July data reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But as of Wednesday, that increase is estimated to be somewhere around 3.2%, thanks to “a jump in consumer price data through August,” TSCL wrote in a press release.
In terms of benefits, that means the average monthly Social Security check, at $1,790, would increase to around $1,847.30.
TSCL’s estimate comes after the most recent publication of the Labor Bureau’s Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners (CPI-W) — the same index used by the Social Security Administration to determine the annual COLA. TSCL warned, however, that the official increase won’t be announced until next month after inflation data from the CPI-W reports in July, August and September can be averaged and calculated.
An increase of 3.2% — which would effectively be one of the three largest increases in the past decade — is still far below those announced for 2022 and 2023, at 5.9% and 8.7%, respectively. It’s also not enough to sustain the cost of living for most retirees, according to a TSCL survey that determined that a majority of retirees were spending more than $2,000 on monthly expenses.
“In 2023, retirees received the highest COLA in 40 years — (8.7%), but nobody is getting rich,” TSCL wrote in a press release. “The reality is that the dollar amount of the COLA increase received is meager at best, with the average monthly retiree benefit only $1,790 in 2023.”
The organization has also historically taken issue with how the annual COLA is calculated, claiming the CPI-W does not take seniors’ spending habits on prescriptions, groceries or dental services into consideration.
TSCL also noted in Wednesday’s release that Medicare Part B premiums, which are automatically deducted from Social Security checks, have yet to be announced. The group expects the premiums to increase by about $15, from $164.90 to $179.80, based partially on a report from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
The official COLA will be announced by the Social Security Administration in October, before going into effect in January 2024.