What is the COLA?

Social Security can often seem somewhat opaque to people, since it’s not entirely clear how they determine how much you get paid. This is doubly true for things like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), two programs intended to help those who can no longer work due to a mental or physical disability. One of the things that can have an impact on how much you receive is the Cost of Living Adjustment, or COLA for short.

Having very little to do with any kind of carbonated beverage, the COLA is an automatic adjustment to Social Security payments (including SSDI and SSI) that happens every year. As the name suggests, the COLA is intended to increase benefits in accordance with a rising cost of living, ensuring recipients of Social Security do not effectively lose benefits due to things like inflation, changes in housing prices, rising food costs, and so on.

The COLA is factored in with something known as the national average wage index, which compares their personal income with the national average income of people across the United States. This index is intended to both adjust the recipient’s benefits to move with changes in the national average wage over time and keep up with the rise in the costs associated with maintaining a standard of living that occurs over a person’s lifetime. After all, a person retiring at 62 in 2019 will not have the same costs of living they might’ve had when they first started working at 18 in 1975.  These adjustments help to make sure anyone receiving SSDI or SSI benefits will continue to be able to live off those benefits for the foreseeable future.

If you or a loved one need assistance applying for SSDI or SSI benefits, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced Social Security Disability benefits lawyer. The lawyers at Sullivan & Kehoe, LLP have over 50 years of combined experience between its attorneys and are available to you or your loved one in obtaining Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits. To schedule a consultation with our New York Social Security Disability benefits lawyers, call (631) 823-7155.

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