Social Security COLA what’s your opinion?

14 comments

  1. I’m sorry, but if the cost of living is not going up, then why should the government pay a Cost of Living Adjustment? The whole purpose of instituting the COLA was to compensate retirees for their loss of buying power due to inflation. If the buying power is not lost, then no need for compensation to the non-existent loss. (Now, if you want to discuss which version of the CPI to use, then that makes sense.)

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  2. Like others I expect that the correct way to move forward is to fix what is currently the biggest problem. That is fund the SS Fund so that it takes in more money and thereby can remain viable beyond the current 2034 term. There are several ways to accomplish this; one, continuing to tax funds beyond the current limit annual ss monetary amount (about 130k I think); two, increasing the age for ‘full’ retirement from 66 to perhaps 68; three increasing the tax rate applied to wages from the current 13.5%. Of course perhaps the best way may be some combination of all three of these. The truth is the people in Congress don’t have the guts to address the problem and so the impending disaster draws ever closer. I realize you are looking for opinions so in light of the facts I would suggest keeping a COLA as opposed to a flat hike of 3% as it keeps the notion of SS not being a sole source of income. The idea of making it capable of funding one’s retirement is just not realistic and is the reason why 401k were made available. They should be funded when a person is working not doing so should not be rewarded by providing a windfall at retirement. At some point bad habits should not the cause for a bailout by the government.

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  3. Some time ago I spoke to our then Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen about the Social Security COLA. He told me that the the SS COLA was based on a speficic cost of living index that included and excluded the costs of certain consumer items. Thus, may I recommend that as part of your research for an upcoming Commentary you obtain the present details of that particular formula/calculation. That information could be very useful and insightful. Just trying to be helpful.

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    1. Thanks Randy. Actually I have all that and written about it in past, but it will be good to mention again. It’s based on the change in the CPI-W.

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  4. I think getting the system solvent is a larger issue than the COLA. If that is done then using the existing formula is better than nothing. If the system is flush with cash (unlikely) then improve the COLA formula.

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  5. I agree a flat 3% would be very helpful with expenses and rising prices for most things. Also, noted that Social Security rounds off to the nearest dollar, although as a rule if the amount is 25.57, one receives $ 25.00 even though the amount is over $.50 for the percentage, so rather than the calculation being $26.00 it becomes $25.00 Then when that is added to the present Social Security and Medicare deduction, that isn’t necessarily a whole number, it is again rounded down rather than up to the next dollar. So if Medicare is $146.86, that amount is deducted, however, the Social Security amount is lowered by another dollar. Over the years if everyone’s is calculated the same the dollars add up. With a flat 3% the dollar amount would be known ahead of time instead of having to wait for the 3rd quarter to determine whether or not one will receive any COLA.. It also is a fair amount for seniors with rising costs and finding it necessary to pay service people for services provided for things we no longer can do our selves and have to hire someone to do.

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  6. I would favor an auto 3 percent cola, unless the cost of living (non chained CPI) was 1 percent or less. In those instances, it could be the CPI.

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  7. I am not receiving social security at this time so my opinion my change in 15 years. Being greedy, I will always accept extra free money even though I never contributed toward the COLA. If the premise was that workers and employers pay into a fund and benefits will be paid from that fund, then are the payroll taxes increased with each COLA raise? If you do not raise the taxes, then the COLA will be taken more and more from the trust fund, which is expected to be depleted by 2034. If this happens in 2034, the trust fund’s income and payout becomes equal at 80% of current benefits and another pandemic happens, will seniors now have benefits cut again because nobody is working or paying payroll taxes into the trust fund?

    My pension does not have a cost of living increases, so why should I expect my Social Security benefit increase? From the day I started working, the Social Security trust fund has been under pressure. In the early 1980’s congress bought some time for the trust fund and move back my normal retirement date. I have always had to assume that Social Security was not going to be there when I retire. Even today on your Social Security statement they tell you that they will only be able to pay 80% of my projected benefit (this was before the pandemic). Unless congress fixes the funding for Social Security or freeze or more like stop expanding the benefits, I do not want a COLA. This will only speed up the depletion of the fund.

    Instead of a COLA, how about stop taxing Social Security as income when you exceed the IRS limits. That is like giving person food and then taking some of it back. If the purpose of Social Security is to give people who contribute to the fund money in retirement, then why are you taxing the same money you are giving them? Does it make sense to get a 3% COLA only to have the COLA taxed at 15-20% if you managed you retirement income correctly?

    Too many people have become dependant on the COLA. I know that some people really need that COLA. However, nobody should start their retirement being solely depended on Social Security. It was never, ever, meant to be that way.

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  8. For me the increases that matter that I have little control over are medical, food, property taxes and utilities. This assumes one does not want to move, which of course you could but that would be a rather major change in life style. Most other expenses have a degree of discretion in them and one can do things to manage or mitigate them. I would favor a COLA adjustment that had extra weight towards the above items and think it could reflect the added costs associated with the items not easily under our control.

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  9. Well, Mr. Quinn, that is a difficult subject to comment on. I don’t know which expenses are included in the calculations and I don’t think that one national calculation can ever be fair to everyone. My property taxes increase every year, but many seniors in nursing homes probably pay no property taxes. My property taxes are considerably higher than in another state just three miles away. My Medicare supplemental insurance premiums and my Part D prescription insurance premiums increase every year. My automobile and home owners’ insurance premiums increase every year, but seniors in nursing homes have no such expenses. I don’t know if nursing home expenses increase every year? There are far too many unknowns and individual situational differences preventing an intelligent comment. However, I do know that we need some level of relief to offset the inevitable yearly increase in living expenses.

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    1. Generally, I agree with Dave although I can and do economize on food – I try to use less electricity and natural gas – many of us drive less as we get older, but insurance companies disregard that – it’s interesting, however, that COVID-19 has reduced the amount that a great many people drive and Allstate, State Farm and Liberty Mutual have refunded portions of premiums accordingly – I’m certain that a reduction in corporate greed could benefit us seniors, and I’m equally certain that will never happen

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  10. A few years ago, the govt was giving bad news about shortage of funds, deficits, etc and how they couldn’t give SS’ers any increases. I wrote to my Rep in DC (Rush Holt) and asked if automatic pay increases to staffers et al would be held back or reduced ….. no reply, no surprise!

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    1. Thanks for you comment, Bob, but just to clarify. The COLA is automatic based on inflation factors. Neither Congress nor any administration has had anything to do with providing the SS COLA since 1975.

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