Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) Information for 2016

With consumer prices down over the past year, monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for nearly 65 million Americans will not automatically increase in 2016.

Read more about the law that does not provide for a Social Security Cost-of-Living adjustment for 2016.

The maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will remain $118,500 because there is no COLA.

The earnings limit for workers who are younger than "full" retirement age (age 66 for people born in 1943 through 1954) will remain $15,720. (We deduct $1 from benefits for each $2 earned over $15,720.)

The earnings limit for people turning 66 in 2016 will stay at $41,880. (We deduct $1 from benefits for each $3 earned over $41,880 until the month the worker turns age 66.) There is no limit on earnings for workers who are "full" retirement age or older for the entire year.

Read more about the COLA, tax, benefit and earning amounts for 2016.


Medicare Information

Information about Medicare changes for 2016 is available at www.Medicare.gov.

Should there be an increase in the Medicare Part B premium, the law contains a "hold harmless" provision that protects approximately 70 percent of Social Security beneficiaries from paying a higher Part B premium, in order to avoid reducing their net Social Security benefit. Those not protected include higher income beneficiaries subject to an income-adjusted Part B premium and beneficiaries newly entitled to Part B in 2016. In addition, beneficiaries who have their Medicare Part B premiums paid by state medical assistance programs will see no change in their Social Security benefit. The state will be required to pay any Medicare Part B premium increase.


History of Automatic Cost-Of-Living Adjustments (COLA)

The purpose of the COLA is to ensure that the purchasing power of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits is not eroded by inflation. It is based on the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) from the third quarter of the last year a COLA was determined to the third quarter of the current year. If there is no increase, there can be no COLA.

The CPI-W is determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Department of Labor. By law, it is the official measure used by the Social Security Administration to calculate COLAs.

Congress enacted the COLA provision as part of the 1972 Social Security Amendments, and automatic annual COLAs began in 1975. Before that, benefits were increased only when Congress enacted special legislation.

Beginning in 1975, Social Security started automatic annual cost-of-living allowances. The change was enacted by legislation that ties COLAs to the annual increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W).

The change means that inflation no longer drains value from Social Security benefits.

The 1975-82 COLAs were effective with Social Security benefits payable for June (received by beneficiaries in July) in each of those years. After 1982, COLAs have been effective with benefits payable for December (received by beneficiaries in January).

Automatic Cost-Of-Living Adjustments received since 1975

July 1975 -- 8.0%
July 1976 -- 6.4%
July 1977 -- 5.9%
July 1978 -- 6.5%
July 1979 -- 9.9%
July 1980 -- 14.3%
July 1981 -- 11.2%
July 1982 -- 7.4%
January 1984 -- 3.5%
January 1985 -- 3.5%
January 1986 -- 3.1%
January 1987 -- 1.3%
January 1988 -- 4.2%
January 1989 -- 4.0%
January 1990 -- 4.7%
January 1991 -- 5.4%
January 1992 -- 3.7%
January 1993 -- 3.0%
January 1994 -- 2.6%
January 1995 -- 2.8%
January 1996 -- 2.6%

January 1997 -- 2.9%
January 1998 -- 2.1%
January 1999 -- 1.3%
January 2000 -- 2.5%(1)
January 2001 -- 3.5%
January 2002 -- 2.6%
January 2003 -- 1.4%
January 2004 -- 2.1%
January 2005 -- 2.7%
January 2006 -- 4.1%
January 2007 -- 3.3%
January 2008 -- 2.3%
January 2009 -- 5.8%
January 2010 -- 0.0%
January 2011 -- 0.0%
January 2012 -- 3.6%
January 2013 -- 1.7%
January 2014 -- 1.5%
January 2015 -- 1.7%
January 2016 -- 0.0%

(1) The COLA for December 1999 was originally determined as 2.4 percent based on CPIs published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Pursuant to Public Law 106-554, however, this COLA is effectively now 2.5 percent.