Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustment Forecast: 2025 COLA Is Lower But Seniors, Retirees Will Face Inflation

COLA (AI Generated/Kareen Liez)

About 50% of American households with someone aged 65 and above depend on Social Security's cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) program for at least half their living expenses. Without it, countless seniors would be languishing in poverty.

Why COLA Matters to Seniors

Because most senior citizens rely on Social Security, the annual COLA assumes great significance. The COLA adjusts monthly benefits using the price increase from Q3 of the prior year to keep up with rising living costs among seniors. Although it is still only Q2 of 2024 as of now, analysts have started having forecasts about next year’s COLA.

The Senior Citizens League has updated its prediction after May’s latest consumer price index (CPI) reading and now projects a rise of 2.57% in SocialSecurity checks for next year. This figure is slightly lower than the earlier forecasted 2.66%. However, it is way below this year’s COLA of 3.20%, which was received by aging Americans. However, for retirees, a reduced COLA might be beneficial in time.

Inflation and Its Effect on Social Security

Conversely, if there is a higher than average COLA, then inflation will also go beyond average, leading to a massive reduction in social security benefits value. Inflation has gradually eaten away at these benefits over time. In fact, when one looks at it closely, based on what the Senior Citizens League said about purchasing power loss is around 36% percent due to increased cost of living during that time frame alone since people who retired from work starting from year two thousand, their pay did not increase at a similar pace hence resulting into an estimated loss in purchasing power of around 36% according to statistics from Senior Citizens League. The recent years’ high rates of inflation have made the problem worse.

This means that during inflationary periods, older persons will find it hard to make ends meet when their benefit checks do not stretch. Conversely, low and stable inflation is good for Social Security recipients as it helps them retain the value of their benefits. For instance, when COLA has been below 3% since 2010, the purchasing power of Social Security benefits increased in general.

Read Also: Social Security Changes: What You Need to Know

Taxing Implications of a Higher COLA

Apart from inflation worries, receiving a high COLA can cause higher taxes on social security benefits. This levy is based on combined earnings, which entail fifty percent of Social Security income plus AGI and untaxed interest earnings. As the benefits increase, so does the combined income, leading to possible taxation on those benefits.

These thresholds have gone without an update for over three decades and hence do not consider inflation, thus imposing a growing tax burden as retirees’ earnings grow. For this reason, a lower COLA rate would result in fewer taxes and, hence, more Social Security benefits for retirees.

Looking Ahead to the 2025 COLA

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures for May were better than anticipated, causing The Senior Citizens League to lower its projections for the 2025 COLA. Still, other experts are expressing caution about such declarations. Inflation trends continue to be monitored closely by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which sets interest-rate policies. During its most recent meeting, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell suggested that there may only be one interest-rate cut necessary before year-end, implying that inflation is still not wholly under control.

This promising May reading marked a year-over-year increase in headline and core CPIs of 3.3%; however, uncertainties about what path prices will take linger. Although the Senior Citizens League view assumes little change in pricing from May through September, it is uncertain.

Nonetheless, unless something unforeseen happens, a COLA under or around three percent looks probable by 2025, providing some solace to retirees. Lower inflation and moderate COLAs can improve Social Security’s true purchasing power and contribute to financial stability for retirees.

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