The Social Security Administration was scheduled to announce the annual COLA adjustment on Oct. 16, but it can’t do so because it won’t have an inflation report for September from the Labor Department.
The Labor Department announced on Oct. 10 that it won’t be issuing the inflation report because of the government shutdown that went into effect on Oct. 1.
The COLA is to begin in January with the monthly payments that go to nearly 58 million Social Security beneficiaries. It’s typically announced in October to give Social Security and other federal retirement programs time to implement the change.
Joyce Rogers, AARP senior vice president for government affairs, said she hopes that Social Security recipients will not be adversely affected by the delayed announcement and that the fiscal issues behind the delay are sorted out quickly.
“Our members are worried that the benefits they have earned may be cut as part of a deal to reduce the deficit, fund government operations or increase the debt ceiling,” Rogers said, “and the lack of a COLA announcement could add to their increasing worries that, if there is no agreement soon, they may not receive their Social Security checks and may lose access to their health care.”
Max Richtman, president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, said: “There’s enough anxiety around right now. We don’t need to add to it by delaying information.”
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the COLA for 2014 will be about 1.5 percent, according to Bankrate.
A bigger crisis looms next week, when the federal government is projected to reach the limit of its borrowing authority. The Treasury Department says that will happen on Oct. 17.
President Barack Obama has said that if the government defaults, he cannot guarantee that Social Security checks will go out on time.
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