Automatic Determinations

Cost-of-Living Adjustment

COLA History

COLA effect on Social Security retirement benefits

Calculation of retirement benefits

Social Security benefit data by…
    benefit type or
    family type

New beneficiaries coming onto Social Security's rolls tend to have, on average, higher benefits than those leaving, so average benefits normally rise from month to month. This gradual rise in average benefits is altered by abrupt increases due to annual cost-of-living adjustments or COLAs. The COLA for December 2018 is 2.8 percent and is first payable in January 2019.

The table below provides estimated average benefits for certain beneficiary types, at the end of December 2018.

Estimated effect of 2.8-percent COLA on average benefits
at the end of December 2018
Type of benefit Before
2.8% COLA
After
2.8% COLA
Increase
Retired worker $1,422 $1,461 $39
Spouse of retired worker 742 763 21
Aged widow(er) 1,350 1,388 38
Disabled widow(er) 727 748 21
Disabled worker 1,200 1,234 34
Note: The above estimates are based on actual benefit data through August 2018.


The table below provides estimated average benefits for selected family types.

Estimated effect of 2.8-percent COLA on average family benefits
at the end of December 2018
Type of family Before
2.8% COLA
After
2.8% COLA
Increase
Disabled worker, spouse, and children $2,072 $2,130 $58
Retired worker and aged spouse 2,381 2,448 67
Surviving child(ren) onlya 1,115 1,146 31
Aged widow(er) alone 1,349 1,386 37
Widowed mother and 2 children 2,797 2,876 79
a Family with one or more children excludes surviving parent or guardian who is ineligible to receive benefits.
Note: The above estimates are based on actual benefit data through August 2018.