“Based on the February CPI-W (Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers) data—the CPI that’s used to calculate the Social Security COLA—I’m estimating a 7.6 percent COLA for 2023,” Mary Johnson, Social Security policy analyst at the Senior Citizens League, told Fox.
“It’s still six months before we will get the final announcement in October though, and this estimate will change before then,” she continued.
The potential 7.6 percent COLA increase might seem steep, but history shows that the Social Security Administration (SSA) has been down this road before. The biggest boost to the COLA was the 14.3 percent increase in 1980, which was the result of the CPI-W surging more than 12 percent during 1979. In 1981, the COLA was approved at 11.2 percent.
Fast-Dwindling Buying Power
Amid the stubbornly high inflationary environment, the Senior Citizens League highlighted the fact that last year’s COLA raise has done little to protect senior citizens’ buying power, which has sunk 32 percent over a twenty-one-year period. Even after the nearly 6 percent bump, monthly Social Security payments only climbed by approximately $90, to an estimated average of $1,657.
“To put it in perspective, for every $100 worth of groceries a retiree could afford in 2000, they can only buy $68 worth today,” Johnson said in a statement.
The group added in the release that “to help protect the buying power of benefits, The Senior Citizens League supports legislation that would provide a modest boost in benefits and base COLAs on the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E) or guarantee a COLA no lower than 3 percent.”
Stimulus Checks for Seniors
In another effort to help Americans cope with high inflation, the Senior Citizens League has launched a petition urging Congress to quickly approve a fourth round of stimulus checks for recipients of Social Security benefits.
“Social Security benefits are one of the few types of income in retirement adjusted for inflation. But soaring inflation has taken a toll on household finances of retired and disabled Social Security recipients,” the petition argues.
“I strongly urge you that now is the time that you must support an emergency $1,400.00 stimulus check to Social Security recipients,” it concludes.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.