2015 Social Security COLA: Modest but Crucial

iStock_000020946989SmallThe modest 1.7 percent Social Security COLA for 2015 remains crucial to the financial security of the nearly 59 million Americans receiving benefits. The COLA helps beneficiaries of all ages maintain their standard of living, keeping many from falling into poverty by providing partial protection against inflation. Millions of families, including 41 million retired workers and their dependents, 6 million survivors of deceased workers, and 11 million workers with disabilities and their dependents, will depend on next year’s modest COLA increase as they face rising costs of basic needs like food, utilities and health care.

>> 2015 COLA Slightly Higher Than 2014’s

Although in the long term we need to strengthen Social Security with reasonable changes, volatility in the stock market has never impacted the promise of Social Security benefits. With $2.8 trillion in assets these popular benefits can exist far in to the future, continuing on their nearly 80-year streak of never missing a payment.

That’s why candidates and outside groups have scrambled in these final few weeks before Election Day to define who wants to protect and strengthen Social Security benefits the most. Because most retirees depend upon their earned benefit for at least half of their retirement income, we hope Americans of all political stripes will ask candidates where they stand on Social Security and Medicare and look at our voter guide to see what candidates have already said about these vital issues.

Photo: gpointstudio/iStock

roro42 5pts

Why is it ss moved my date of payment? The increase isn't enough. .Cost  of living is more than that.

wb7870 5pts

There is no way that a 1.7% increase in Social Security benefits can cover the increase in cost of living. A true cost of living increase is between 4% and 8%, so where does the government come up with this crazy mathematical formula?

marapem 5pts

I gave up having faith in government ever doing the right thing in regards to have a decent COLA given to those of us who are on SSI & SSA when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger took away the $32 increase for the disabled and people on SSI &SSA recipients in 2009, when California was in a budget crisis.  Today Gov. Brown has not returned to us, which i feel that he should because CA has a surplus. 

My dream is for the idiots who stay up all night thinking of ways in how to cheat the mis-fortunate out of the COLA increases every year, to live on the almost $900 and see how it really feels to be on the other side of their $150,00 a year salaries.

tg560 5pts

I had or had been told that Social Security was going up 7.1 this year. That was told to me by a close friend. Now, you are saying that in 2015 it going up 1.7, what will or is there going to be a raise?

tanya g.

red39muztang 5pts

Laughable to think my $20 a month raise will offset my increases in medical.  A procedure done on my back every year was $100 & will go to $239.  Specialist is going from$15 to $35.  Who & how do they make a decision like that.  They should be ashamed.  I have complained to my insurance.

jd1242745 5pts

that's a crummy cola...1.7% is a little ridiculous when Medicare will take most of that raise, and inflation has gone higher than 1.7%....I can't believe the government proposes such a drop in the bucket...Congress is living high on the hog, laughing at us peasants....I can hardly make it anymore...I'm retired, and my benefit after 30 years of working is now 1.7%   way to go, Obama.

2Papa 5pts

Wow, that's another bottle of wine a month.  Yippee!

mfeast 5pts

Does this COLA apply to disability as well?  SO then the basic check will go up by 20.00 next year and when does this take effect if at all for a disability (permanent disability)  

Moreover i hear from social security that by 2025 or 2030 they will only be paying 77 cents on the dollar?  So  1000.00 per month might 770.00?  I am 52 my husband is disabled at 52 and on medicare so he lost a hundred or so bucks....   if the COLA made his gross check go up 20.00 ....  and I have to wonder if the part D thing wont take any COLA he gets....  we net 950.00 per month....  our bills run nearly all of it....  and my little job isnt enough to pay it all and put gas in the car and food on the table....  and as we age....  there is age discrimination .....  sigh

Ibutterfly 5pts

It is a joke. Given that the HHS federal poverty standards are based on 1960 Mississippi, anything coming out of Washington means zilch, to be polite. Try living by those standards in the Northeast. Thoughts? I tried a cheaper part of the country but had problems dodging the KKK and the like.

LillietheClown 5pts

These little increases are not keeping up with the cost of living.  The $20.00 I will receive will not cover my increase in rent, $30.00.  Next year I will no longer be getting a rent subsidy. Which means after my rent I will have about $100.00 left.  I get compensation checks  and that is what I will have to live on. 

In N.J. there is not enough senior housing or low income housing.  If this keeps up the homeless will be seniors.

They are running commercials about seniors not taking their meds.  Well soon they won't be able to afford them.  My meds if I had to pay full price I wouldn't be able to afford, as they total more then my check.  If the Republican have their way I will spent a lot of my time in the hospital because I can't afford my meds.

fettenberg 5pts

if I get $588 a month after paying Plan B Medicare, what will I get when the SS payment increases?

vzf5l1 5pts

The CPI used to calculate Social Security COLA must include a bunch of things that seniors do not consume.  When it comes to important items, such as food, medicine & health care, 1.7% isn't even close to covering the inflation that has occurred here. Just look at what has happened to meat and seafood.   Also, what about food companies who reduce the amount of food contained in a package.  Remember when a half gallon of ice cream was really a half gallon?  CPI still counts it as a half gallon.  This has happened to many products including many non-food products.  CPI used to calculate the SSA increase needs to be changed.

myexper 5pts

While the recently announced SS COLA was quite small, it will be even smaller if Republicans control Congress after the upcoming elections. Republicans plan to use the Chained CPI method to determine COLA instead of the present CPI-W method. This Chained CPI will also be used to also cut benefits for Disabled Veterans by also reducing their COLA.

Republicans intend to take our COLA in the wrong direction. Seniors need a COLA calculation which addresses the rising costs seniors experience. The present CPI-W calculation does not address seniors' needs and yields a net COLA far too low for senior living needs. But instead of making efforts to increase SS COLA, Republicans are demanding methods to further reduce SS COLA. In addition, Republicans will also demand the use of means testing to even further reduce the Social security benefits for seniors who have pensions or saved up for retirement.

dynomtr1 5pts

Sorry Jo Ann but your partial protection comment on COLA and CPI is not going to cut it. This needs to be #1 priority, that why I am a member. I am not a $100,000 a year pensioner. I really don't care about foreign travel or entertainment. I joined because I wanted to believe if anything else AARP would fight for the #1 basic need.  AARP needs to either get us bigger COLA  or go to bat to fix the CPI so we do. Pic your fight either one, I can not accept "partial protection" as a casual passing comment. I've been a member for over 10 years, that's going to change if the organization cant get its act together. All I see is conventions, discount clubs, vacations. Whole host of not essential junk wrapped into a club that's ignoring the basics.

jn88217053 5pts

What a "weak-kneed" response Jo-Ann. This and last years COLA hasn't even covered the increases in my medications or co-pays. When is the AARP going to stand uo start ratteling the cages in D.C?

Stoshie 5pts

One good thing - our Medicare monthly premium and yearly deductible won't go up in 2015.  Instead of complaining about the meager increase in SS, at least be thankful for that.

kelliemurray 5pts

People that have high paying jobs, like you Jo Ann, shouldn't be reporting on people like me who live far below the poverty level.  I only wish I got $1300 a month!  I live on $700 and live in a government subsidized apartment.  Until you walk in my shoes don't report about a 'modest increase' or 'maintaining a standard of living'.  Please.  I pray I have enough money to get groceries and gasoline each month.  And that doesn't include the months when I have to get tags or an inspection sticker for my car or God forbid something breaks down and has to be repaired or replaced.  Stick to reporting about things you know about because you obviously know nothing about how we live month to month on Social Security!!!!  Oh and btw, my 'modest increase' comes to about $11 and then with that my food stamps go down and my rent goes up so I end up getting nothing extra!!!!!  Modest increase, my hind leg.

mc8028 5pts

$1302 is the monthly income for SS? How come I only get $685 a month? I could sure use the cost of living increase!!

NoMeat4Me 5pts

This is pathetic!  Those of us who are retired spend differently than those who have families.  What calculations do they use?  When my rent goes up, my COLA+ will be gone.  Thank you Republicans for sucking the life out the hard work I've done.

michael10sley 5pts

I'm confused because AARP says we have $2.8 trillion in assets (trust fund ?) and I've read and heard other news sources say Congress (the Republicans) had raided the coffers and we _didn't have that money set aside.

I don't know who to believe but, I hope AARP is correct.

And the 1.7% isn't nearly enough to make up for COLA increases even _this year, much less all we've lost in years past.

 If its based on inflation the government hasn't kept up caught up.

tcmnoles 5pts

It is just my wife and I and yet my 2 week grocery budget has gone from $120.00 to $160.00, that is food only yet they seem to think a 1.75% increase is OK?????? God help us if they go to the Chained CPI.  

jeffw545 5pts

Here we go again Social Security  cola so low. But those in Government get more and more.This is the way the Wealthy People in Government want it. Look at today price of Fuel . It want stay at that price after we vote. So the American People lost again.

myexper 5pts


There was no increase to Medicare so Medicare will not take any of the 1.7% raise.

President Obama nor any other President determines your Social Security COLA.  This COLA is determined by the CPI (Consumer Price Index) in a calculation called the CPI-W.

Republicans, however, want to use a different calculation called the Chained CPI which will provide a lower COLA that the current CPI-W. Now that Republicans control Congress, they will pass the Chained CPI and cut your Social Security benefits. Hopefully President Obama will be able to veto the Republican demand to cut your Social Security benefits.

daddyd01 5pts

@fettenberg You get 1.7% on your TOTAL SS payment BEFORE any deductions, this includes the Part B Medicare premium.

daddyd01 5pts

@vzf5l1 They also calculate the CPI in the third quarter, which is the LOWEST period of price increases during the year. Deliberately done so as NOT to give us a reasonable COLA. What SHOULD be done is take the ENTIRE year into account when calculating the CPI, and therefore our deserved COLA. I say, let CONGRESS, and the rest of Washington live as we HAVE to live. They are OUR employees, after all. Since when does an employee decide when, and how much of a raise, IF any, that they get, how much time off, when they come to work, or not, perks, and benefits that they get, and take time off to apply for other jobs, take money or gifts from outside people, etc? We would have been summarily DISMISSED, with a BAD work record to boot, had we done any of these things while working!

Geodemott 5pts

@myexper I am not convinced by your spin. Republicans always gave SSA a good raise each year. Your Demo Obamo came in and the first thing he did was NO RAISE for SSA - not a penny while he spent billions for GM, Wall Street, etc.   Now we get 1.7% while trying to compete with $15 an hour hamburger flippers and see our grocery store prices rise due to the decreased value of the dollar.  The dollars in our pockets have become worth much less since the big spending, debt increasing, policies of the currect President.  Time to have some real solutions. God Bless America 

daddyd01 5pts

@Stoshie "One good thing..." Actually, my monthly Part D premium went down because of betrayal by AARP. They cut the plan that I have been on since 2009, when I finally won a three year battle, upon a judicial hearing, with SS to get MY disability benefits ( I was stricken with a spinal cord tumor, which crippled me upon the subsequent surgery to remove this MALIGNANT tumor, thus also ending my 30 year career as an OR RN), and having been declared immediately eligible for Medicare. I am on the AARP Part D MedicareRx Enhanced (PDP) which has a stiff premium, but has Gap coverage, no deductible, and low co-pays. Now I get a notice that this plan has been dropped in 2015 because too few (100,00 plus) people are on this plan!I am being moved to the next lower plan, half the premium, still no deductible, NO gap coverage, lower tier 1 & 2 co-pays, but almost 25% higher tier 3 co-pays, and unreal tier 4 cost sharing that was a co-pay in 2014 (one of my Rx is tier 4). I currently take 16 prescription medications daily, one monthly injection, carry an emergency allergy injection kit, and take random prescriptions throughout the year. My out-of pocket prescription costs are anywhere from $1,500-$2,000 annually. We'll see where my OOP is at the end of 2015! Problem is, I have looked at (the very limited number) all the other Part D , and Advantage Plan coverages for prescription drugs available in my state, and the AARP plan still comes out on top. I have never seen any advantage to the so-called "Advantage" plans, and have stayed with traditional Medicare, and a Part D supplement policy. I see continual erosion of Medicare now, since the passage of the ACA into law. Medicare was, and is being, robbed to fund this fiasco. We chose to pay the tax/fine rather than take out an unaffordable, no use healthcare policy on my uncovered wife. We couldn't afford the so-called 'affordable' plans ($600+/month with $15,000 ded., 70/30 co-pay, no Rx coverage) from AARP, and sure cannot afford the astronomical, lowest tier plans, through the government marketplace (our state chose not to participate). And, our "income is TOO HIGH" to qualify for ANY government assistance of ANY sort because of the ridiculously LOW Federal Poverty determination. No insurance, no pay, if something happens where my wife requires more than basic medical care. If the damned illegal aliens can do it, so can we!

shamrocm 5pts

@mc8028 The more you earn and the longer you pay into the system determines the monthly benefit; plain and simple.

rt38278117 5pts

I'm disabled and 1,302 is not what I get either. I get 1,039. Per mo. And I'm an open heart person so it does not make sense why we all don't get 1302 a month.

InsertCleverNameHere 5pts

@mc8028 Social Security benefits are based on your lifetime earnings. Your actual earnings are adjusted or “indexed” to account for changes in average wages since the year the earnings were received. Then Social Security calculates your average indexed monthly earnings during the 35 years in which you earned the most.  --  ssa.gov

shamrocm 5pts

@NoMeat4Me The "Mid-Term" was just this week and you're blaming the Republicans all ready?

Answer these simple questions, Please;

#1  Who created Social Security to make us more dependent on government?

#2. Who removed the tax deduction for Social Security withholding?

#3. Who taxed Social Security benefits?

#4. Who imposed Socialized Medicine (Medicare) upon us?

#5. Who imposed the increase of Socialized Medicine (Affordable Care Act)?

If you answered "The Republicans" to any of the above questions you are a lamb being led to the slaughter.  The Democrats, just to keep their grip on us, need to make us more and more dependent upon them or else they have no power.  They squealed like "stuck pigs" when the Republicans merely suggested that people be allowed (voluntarily) to invest a portion of their Social Security withholding into their own portfolio; like we're too stupid to make a sound investment decision. If my broker handled my investments as poorly as the government has handled my Social Security, he would be in prison.

Then there is the 401k and the IRA.... When the economy encountered a downturn and Wall Street went south of the border, you all made fun of us and called our investments a "201k".  Well, I laughed all the way to the bank. While the "value" of the investments did go down, the dividends remained the same and reinvested at the lower "value". Sorry, but we got more bang for the buck.

myexper 5pts


Addressing the remainder of your comments:

Understanding how the Social Security "RAISE" is determined will explain why there was "NO RAISE" during the period you mention. During this time, the cost of living was actually "negative". So the cost of living decreased, actually putting more money into the hands of consumers. So you can't get a cost of living increase when there was none.

I have posted NO spin, as you falsely accuse, only facts  Numerous AARP articles, and (non biased) national publications will conform my statements.  Please don't believe Fox News and any of the other highly biased right wing extremist news sources. 

As for the national debt you mention, this debt is not only determined by spending but also by loss in revenue. And President Obama did try to address the enormous loss in revenue by eliminating the tax cuts for the wealthy and closing the tax loopholes of the wealthy and wealthy corporations. But your Republicans stopped him every step of the way. And please don't forget the two unfunded wars started by the Republicans you support (Iraq and Afghanistan) which added trillions to the nations debt.

The largest debt the nation owes is to the Social Security Trust Fund. The government owes nearly $3 TRILLION to Social Security, the money it borrowed over several decades. Instead of paying this money back, your Republicans want to tie this money into reducing the national debt. As Social Security had absolutely nothing to do with creating the national debt, the money owed to Social Security should be paid back into Social Security instead of tying it into the national debt and cutting the earned benefits of seniors on Social Security. These seniors put their money into Social Security all their working lives, relying on it for their retirements. And now, with your Republicans controlling all of Congress, their plan to cut seniors SS benefits using the Chained CPI and means testing will pass all of Congress.You mention that "God Bless America". I do agree with that and would like to add "God help as all from the Republican plans to attack senior citizens, including their plan to eliminate their Medicare".

myexper 5pts


To Geodemott:  Your bitter accusation that Obama was responsible for the "NO RAISE"  and current 1.7% raise to Social Security is completely false. You do not understand how this "RAISE" is determined.

The Social Security "RAISE"  you talk about (COLA)  is determined by the CPI (Consumer Price Index) in a calculation called the CPI-W. 

Obama nor any president determines this CPI, which determines the yearly  "RAISE" you will receive using the CPI-W calculation.

Your Republicans demand that your "RAISE" be calculated using the CHAINED CPI instead of the present CPI-W calculation. The Republican CHAINED CPI creates a lower "RAISE" and will have a cumulative negative effect each later year. You will experience an enormous loss to your Social Security benefits over several years, in addition to a lower "RAISE" each year.

The Republicans you support are clearly not in the best interest of yourself nor any seniors.

myexper 5pts


You have absolutely no idea as to what you are talking about!

Not all people recovered from the Wall Street collapse, initiated by Republican deregulation.

Don't forget about the "Socialized Medicine" you enjoy ..... MEDICARE!



daddyd01 5pts

@shamrocm @NoMeat4Me I'm conservative, but not wealthy, or anywhere near. Investments, 401k, IRA... what are these? I have nothing in the way of funds, NOTHING! We were financially wiped out when I was diagnosed, operated on within two weeks with the foreknowledge that there would be some degree of nerve damage, and subsequent disability, caused by the surgery to remove the tumor that was discovered, upon biopsy,to be malignant. So major damage had to be done to remove all traces of the tumor. I went through several months of recovery at home, scarcely able to walk, and in excruciating pain. I was stir crazy, nonetheless, and decided that I would try to return to work (RN in the OR) with a cane to walk. My surgeon did not want to let me, but I insisted on trying, so he let me, with the warning that I was disabled, and would likely not last long. I tried, but was unable to stand, or walk, as is required by my job. They put me on desk duty, but sitting more than10-15 minutes was agony. I missed more days than I was there. I finally returned to my Dr, who said I was permanently disabled, and would not allow me to return to any sort of work. Afterwards, we had to go into all of our savings, and both retirement accounts to survive, pay for my medications, and treatments, etc, until everything was on track. It all evaporated. Broker? What a joke! We literally live hand to mouth, now. My wife has to care for me, so she cannot work in her profession, as it requires her to be too far from home, and her working part time just causes my Social Security Disability income to be taxed, which wipes out what she earns, and causes us to have to pay at the end of the year. Any solutions for us to bring in any income on a permanently fixed income that's under threat of CUTS?