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Social Security benefits to increase by 1.5 percent next year

Social Security AdministrationThe Social Security Administration announced last week that Social Security benefits will increase slightly in January by approximately 1.5 percent—one of the smallest increases since 1975.

The increase for retirees, veterans and other recipients amounts to an average raise of $19 per month to account for the rise in the cost of living.  The annual COL adjustment is based on a measure of inflation released on Wednesday, The Republic reports.

Automatic COLAs were adopted in 1975 so benefits would be on pace with increases in the cost of food, housing and transportation, but some advocates for older Americans have said the COLA occasionally falls short.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said that even with the increase, some seniors will have difficulty paying for living expenses.

“Seniors have spent a lifetime paying into Social Security,” Brown said. “As the cost of living continues to rise, and the budgets of many seniors already stretched to the breaking point, we should continue to ensure that seniors receive the benefits they have earned. Congress needs to do more to ensure that our seniors can continue to retire with dignity.”

Brown joined the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare in 2011 to announce the Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers Act, which would change the COLA formula to more accurately reflect costs. Social Security recipients did not receive a COLA in 2010 and 2011, due to the method by which inflation is calculated.

Brown previously voiced support for the Strengthening Social Security Act, which would raise benefits and extend the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund.

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