(NEXSTAR) – Millions of America’s older adults will see a bump in the amount they receive in monthly Social Security benefits, starting in January. The increase in payments is the largest in decades at 8.7% and is designed to help offset the soaring inflation that would otherwise limit recipients’ purchasing power.
The bump in benefits is aptly titled a cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA. On average, Social Security benefits will increase in January by more than $140 per month, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA).
When do new benefits kick in?
People who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), will receive two payments in December this year. Since the last day of December is a Saturday, the SSA wants to make sure people who depend on the checks, which are usually paid on the first of each month, aren’t forced to wait until the first business day in January.
“We do this to avoid putting you at a financial disadvantage and make sure that you don’t have to wait beyond the first of the month to get your payment,” the SSA says on its website. “It does not mean that you are receiving a duplicate payment in the previous month, so you do not need to contact us to report the second payment.”
As for Social Security recipients, not everyone will see the higher payments hit their bank accounts at the same time. The SSA rolls out payments based on beneficiaries’ birthdays. If you were born between the first and 10th day of the month, you’ll receive your check on the second Wednesday of each month. If your birthday falls between the 11th and the 20th, you’ll receive it on the third Wednesday. On any other date, you’ll receive your check on the fourth Wednesday of the month.
In January, for example, COLA recipients with early birth dates will receive their check on the second Wednesday of the month, January 13. Have a birth date between 11 and 20? You’ll see the bump in Social Security benefits on January 18. Recipients with birth dates between the 21st and the end of the month will see their check on January 25. Finally, for people who received Social Security before May 1997 or who receive both Social Security and SSI, the payment date will be January 3.
The COLA bump will be going to more than 65 million qualifying Social Security beneficiaries who are 62 and older. The additional benefit is permanent, and because it is a percentage raise, the next COLA hike will compound the raise. Everyone from the richest Americans to the most vulnerable will receive the same increase in benefits.
The increase is long overdue for many who have been suffering through the inflation that sent the price of basic goods and services skyrocketing in 2022, according to The Senior Citizens League. The group estimates that from January through December, the previous COLA of 5.9% fell short of actual inflation every month by an average of 46%—or $42 per month and over $508 for the year.
“You know things are bad when we are hoping Santa will leave coal in our stockings,” said Mary Johnson, Social Security and Medicare policy analyst for The Senior Citizens League. “When sending warm wishes to family or friends in need, try adding gift certificates for home heating oil, natural gas or electricity. A heated electric mattress pad or warm fleece base layers will earn you hugs for life.”