The cost of living is steadily increasing in virtually every zip code in America. From sprawling urban areas to more remote rural areas, consumers are experiencing a relentless increase in the costs of housing, utilities, food and other necessities — prompting many employers to offer wage raises (though minimal ones) each year to offset the costs associated with daily living.
However, for those relying on the financial support of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the Social Security Administration (SSA) has recently announced that there will be no cost of living increase in 2016 — citing an inflation increase too slight to warrant additional benefits. Unfortunately for many, their monthly benefit amount will remain unchanged, while the costs of basic necessities continue to rise.
Since 1975, the SSA has implemented a regular Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) to help beneficiaries keep up with inflation rates and avoid further impoverishment. In years past, SSI recipients have seen increases ranging from a few dollars to a more significant sum, depending on the activity in the American economy. However, 2016 will be just the third year in history in which recipients will receive the same monthly benefit amount as the previous year – a rate currently set at $733.00 for individuals, and $1,100.00 for couples.
Across the United States, approximately 8 million people rely on SSI benefits to survive. Many of them are permanently disabled and unable to secure gainful employment under any circumstances. The percentage of Arizonans receiving benefits is higher than the national average. For these individuals, who currently rely on this income to survive, the lack of COLA in 2016 could result in a significant hardship, particularly in the event of a stark increase in inflation rates mid-year.
If you or a loved one with a disability are facing hardship because of the lack of COLA in the coming year, an experienced disability attorney can help you find the resources you need.