It’s official: The 2022 Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) will be 5.9%. COLA is based on the rate of inflation, and next year’s increase is the largest in 40 years. It reflects the higher prices consumers have been paying, and are expected to continue paying next year. Most of us have already noticed steeper prices for food staples at the grocery store. The same goes for personal care products; a NY Times article of October 25, 2021 notes that Proctor & Gamble predicts substantial price hikes. Supply chain problems and shortages are getting the blame for the inflationary trend.
The 2022 COLA will translate into about $92 more each month for the average retiree. The COLA increase will also affect millions of disabled individuals who collect Supplemental Security Income (SSI). If you are getting Social Security or SSI benefits, you should be notified by mail sometime in December 2021. Or you can check out your benefits by logging on to or setting up your personal Social Security account here.
Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but according to the Senior Citizens League, your increase will probably not allow you to fully “catch up” and keep pace with inflation. The Senior Citizens League blames this on the formula used for COLA: It is pegged to the Consumer Price Index, which it says does not adequately reflect seniors’ expenses, including health care. Notes the League: “Over the past 21 years, COLAs have raised Social Security benefits by 55% but housing category costs rose nearly 118% and healthcare costs rose 145% over the same period.”
Additional changes in Social Security beginning in 2022
Here are some additional changes you can expect to see in 2022:
- Full retirement age will increase to 67 for anyone born in the year 1960 or later. To check your full retirement age based on your date of birth, click here.
- Social Security payroll tax will now be applied to earned income up to $147,000. In 2021, the figure was $142,800.
- Maximum monthly payouts at full retirement age will increase in 2022, to $3,345. This year’s cap was $3,148.
- If you are collecting benefits and still working but have not yet reached your full retirement age, you will be able to earn more without impacting your benefits. In 2022, you may earn up to $19,560 per year, up from $18,960 in 2021. Seniors who attain full retirement age sometime during the year can earn up to $51,960, up from $50,520 in 2021.
Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust
A new bill called “Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust,” has just been introduced by Rep. John Larson (D-Connecticut). If enacted, it would extend the solvency of the Social Security program and remake many of the program’s features. Whether it will get any traction in Congress is, of course, highly questionable. Some of the proposed changes are:
- Base the Social Security cost of living adjustment formula not on the Consumer Price Index, but on the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPE), a more accurate reflection of seniors’ expenses.
- Provide work credits to those who must leave the workforce to care for children, aging parents or other dependents.
- Increase the payroll tax on high-income workers, applying it to those earning up to $400,000.
- Eliminate the five-month waiting period for receiving Supplemental Security Income.
- Increase benefits to new and current Social Security recipients by 2%.
To read a summary of Larson’s bill, click here.
To learn more about upcoming changes to Social Security in 2022, click here.