No One Knows About A 2017 COLA Yet

Articles guessing about Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for next year are starting to appear. 

No matter what you read or hear, no one knows 2017 COLA information yet and no one will officially know until approximately mid-October. Last year, the Social Security COLA press release was on October 15. 

By law, COLAs for Social Security and SSI benefits are based on the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) from the third quarter of the last year a COLA was determined to the third quarter of the current year.  

The CPI-W is determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Department of Labor. The third quarter of the year ends September 30. Until CPI-W information is available, any cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) amount mentioned for next year is a guess. 

Although COLAs are now an accepted feature of Social Security benefits, they were not originally part of the program. 

From the first payment of Social Security benefits in January 1940 until the 1950 Amendments, the amount of your first benefit check was the amount you could expect to receive for life. It was not until the 1950 Amendments that Congress first legislated an increase in benefits, followed by a second special increase in 1952.  

Legislation creating automatic cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) was signed by President Nixon in 1972. Effective with 1975, the legislation established COLAs based on the consumer price index.  

Information about Medicare changes for 2017, when available, will be at www.medicare.gov, the official Medicare website. Social Security helps people enroll in Medicare but the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), part of the Department of Health and Human Services, administers Medicare.  

Again, no matter what you read or hear, no one knows 2017 COLA information yet and no one will officially know until announced by Social Security, approximately in mid-October. When announced, the news, whatever it might be, will be on the Social Security website, www.socialsecurity.gov.