No Social Security COLA Seems Likely for 2011

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

There were no big surprises in the 2010 Trustees Report for the Social Security system that finally emerged in early August. Once again and for the 3rd year running, the report was not signed by any public trustees. The report finds that a social security deficit is looming out there in the future, as payments to retiring baby boomers outmatch contributions from younger workers. And most important for the millions of retirees who are already collecting social security, it appears that for the second year in a row it is very unlikely that there will be any cost of living increase (COLA) paid for 2011. According to the way the COLA’s are calculated, the cost of living hasn’t gone up since 2008.

Currently income into and interest from the Social Security trust funds exceeds payments to beneficiaries. However that trend will change in the next few years, and by 2025, taxes and interest will fall short of annual benefit payments. At the point the government will be required to draw down trust fund assets to meet benefit payments. The real problem comes in 2037, when the fund becomes exhausted. At that point if nothing changes, the trust will only be able to pay 78% of currently legislated benefits. A minor piece of good news: at 1.92%, Social Security’s 75-year deficit is slightly lower than that reported a year ago.
Source: Social Security’s Financial Outlook: The 2010 Update in Perspective by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

Support for New Retirement Cost of Living Index – CPI-E – Grows
Many people believe that it costs more to be an elderly person than to be a younger person, and that there should be a more realistic way to measure inflation for retirees. “Social Security’s Bind: How to Measure Inflation” in Smart Money gives a most informative rundown on this issue.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which publishes the CPI-U and CPI-W, began calculating a consumer price index for the elderly, the experimental CPI-E, in 1987. It is clear that if the government replaced current cost of living indexes with the CPI-E, social security payments would be higher today. The elder cost of living index gives more weight to health care costs, although it does presume seniors pay less for many goods and services, thanks to senior discounts. The problem with the CPI-E is that it would add to social security’s financial problems, a major reason why it is not in use to calculate social security increases. Read the Smart Money article to learn more.

What do You Think?
Please provide your comments below.

Posted by John Brady on September 16th, 2010

36 Comments »

  1. How can they say that the cost of living has not gone up? Everything you buy is higher, groceries, utilities, my rent, gas. With the cola, it offset some of the increase in costs, now there is nothing. There are a lot of ust that live strickly on ss, office workers had no ira and retirement and raising 3 children by myself, did not leave anything for saving. I worked until I was
    76 and cannot handle it any longer.

    by E.J.Bass — September 19, 2010

  2. How can they say the cost of living has not gone up?
    Everything today costs more than it did 2 years ago.
    Congress said there was no money to give S.S.retirees a COLA raise,but, If you remember 2 months after that statement Congress gave themselves a
    5000.00 raise. What is wrong with this picture.?
    We need to get these selfcentered phonys out of office.it seams that there are fund for everything else the President wants,so lets go a little deeper in debt and give us senior citizens the money they derseve.

    by R.E.Holtam — September 22, 2010

  3. OK So how do we get Washington to fix the problem????

    by M. A. Stewart — September 22, 2010

  4. Wow… When you have rich jerks making all the decisions…. what do you expect! Forget about all of us who have paid into Social Security for our entire working life. This country really doesn’t care anymore about the American people (especially the older citizens), because the US Government is so busy helping other countries…. Is there a country out there that can help us??? WHAT A JOKE! The America I knew as a kid has turned into or is sliding into third world status from within…. WAKE UP AMERICANS!!!!!!!!!!!

    by G Martin — September 22, 2010

  5. The cost of living hasn’t gone up!?!? Where do these guys shop?

    by kw — September 22, 2010

  6. OH… AND NO ONE WANTS TO HIRE OLDER PEOPLE……. I HAVE GREAT BUSINESS EXPERIENCE AND CAN’T EVEN GET A JOB CHECKING SOMEONE OUT OF THE GROCERY STORE. DON’T EVEN BEGIN TO TALK ABOUT DISCRIMINATION… IT IS ALIVE AND WELL AT ALL LEVELS. I’M HEALTHY, SMART, HAVE GOOD HEARING AND SEE VERY WELL, MY PROBLEM, YOU MAY ASK… IS BEING OVER 60 AND HAVING GRAY HAIR!! I’M NOT A RADICAL, JUST A PISSED OFF SENIOR!

    by G Martin — September 22, 2010

  7. Tapping into the mythical trust fund will also be an interesting exercise. The only way to tap into it is for the Federal Government to take on more debt, or raise taxes, or just print the money. Or a combination of all three.

    The trust fund is just part of our over all debt obligations, and using that non-existing money requires the government to take those IOU’s and replace them with Treasury Bonds. The money from the sale of the treasury bonds will then go to Social Security for disbursement to beneficiaries.

    The problem arises because excess social security taxes paid in are double counted… counted to reduce the annual deficit and counted as an asset for the social security trust fund. What can you learn from government accounting methods… nothing… Similar practices in the private sector would result in severe penalties and prison.

    by Dasher — September 22, 2010

  8. As everyone knows, the conservatives have been trying to abolish SS and medicare for a long time. It MAKES ME SICK To know that the Congress voted themslves a cost of living increase for themselves, but were disappointed that they did not get all the new jet planes they wanted (can anyone tell me why Congress needs a fleet of jets?) The problem is we all complain, but we are not organized. If all seniors and interested parties were to take a stand against government waste and all the perks that the Honorables on the Hill get and have been getting forever, and demand we get something in return for all the years we paid taxes and paid into SS and medicare — maybe something would be done about it. And this should not just be seniors who are not working — what about the people who are still working and paying into the system and those that have years ahead of them to be paying into the system and end up with very little when they reach retirement. THIS INSANITY OF GOVERNMENT HAVING MONEY FOR EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE ELSE HAS GOT TO STOP!!!!! Why do all Americans not have a say in how much money is sent to foreign countries. I believe in helping my neighbor — but charity begins at home. Whatever happened to common sense? I thought maybe things would change with our current admin. — but it is clear that “grandma will get a pill instead of surgery” — and she may have to take a bus to Canada to get that pill.

    by Annie — September 22, 2010

  9. Currently most retirees Medicare Part B insurance premiums are $96.40. In 2010 they were supposed to increase to $110.50, a 15 percent increase.
    [ http://www.medicare.gov/Publications/Pubs/pdf/11444.pdf ]

    Because there was no COLA in 2010 that increase has been deferred. Assuming another 15 percent increase is in the offing for 2011 (Thanks to ØbamaCare), it would bring the Pt B premium to $127.50 for 2012. So any potential COLA for 2012 will likely be consumed by two years of Medicare Part B premium increases. Welcome to the age of stagnation in Social Security. Hot dogs and beans anyone.

    by Dasher — September 22, 2010

  10. Annie – While most conservatives me included believe that Social Security and Medicare are not constitutional, no politician would ever consider getting rid of them, in fact GW Bush expanded Medicare with prescription drug coverage. Allowing people to invest a portion or all of there social security taxes into private investments makes sense. Most state pension funds invest in the private sector, why not our personal social security account.

    Social Security Trust Fund is pure folly. It does not exist, it is just an entry in computer, and can only be claimed by increasing taxes. See above : http://www.topretirements.com/blog/financial/no-social-security-cola-seems-likely-for-2011.html/comment-page-1/#comment-7847

    If you are concerned about the out of control spending and annual deficits of $1.5 trillion maybe you should look to conservatives to reign in spending. Obviously the last four years of Democrat rule of Congress have caused severe problems with sky rocketing spending and the resultant deficits. The national debt now stands at $13.469 Trillion as of yesterday.

    by Dasher — September 22, 2010

  11. The government has always manipulated the CPI to get the results they seek. My health insurance premiums increased 12 percent in 2009 and 13 percent in 2010. But, you won’t find health insurance premiums as part of the CPI. Likewise, my property taxes continue to increase each year, and I know I’ll get an automatic increase next year. I guess we’re supposed to be pleased that decreases in the CPI don’t lead to decreases in SS payments.:roll:

    by mrgoodwx — September 22, 2010

  12. Not providing a cost of living increase because it hasn’t increased? What are they reading, analyzing and thinking? Food, prescriptions, transportation, – everything has escalated in price and for us seniors, there is no way to get jobs or increase our income to overcome the increasing deficit. In the long run, more monies will be needed for those seniors who end up with no resources and will have to go on Medicaid and welfare. Which is the cheaper answer??? Wish they would use some common sense. Stop over spending!

    by Diane Lynch — September 22, 2010

  13. As long as they are anonymous they can spout all the bull they desire. And I agree that our fraud of a president is intent on turning America into a Third World Country. This does not bode well for us seniors. We must vote with intensity this Nov. 2 and again in 2012.
    I do not want to see or hear of a Progressive Democrat for the rest of my life.

    by belleboy — September 22, 2010

  14. The measuring tool is outdated! Everything is going up and any COLI should be reflective of that fact.

    by Phil — September 22, 2010

  15. If there is no COLA for Social Security in 2011, then there should be no COLA for Congress! We have Clinton to thank for taxing Social Security… Nice touch!

    by Insight — September 22, 2010

  16. Until our two political parties stop fighting each other as if they were the enemy (and that fight is largely what prevents enough people from cohesively getting together for any meaningful grassroots effort) we, the people, will suffer.

    Once the election is over, ALL ELECTED OFFICIALS are supposed to be working together for the GOOD of the country. As far as I can tell the only good they’re working for is lining their own pockets.

    Stop wasting time talking about third world conditions or conservative or progressives. That’s not the problem. The real problem is greed, and the real problem is that we are no longer the Republic that was created (most people think we’re a democracy – read your constitution. We’re a Republic which is currently using democratic procedures, at least in theory, and that could be taken away.) we are far more like a Corporate Backroom Dictatorship.

    Tired of signing two years contracts for TV which you can’t get out of without huge fees – but they can raise their prices whenever they want? Tired of Terms & Condition statements which blantantly state that those very terms and conditions may be changed at any time, without notice to you, and that continued use by you consitutes agreements to the new ones? Not just online either, my dentist’s office now uses that same language. And why not? It takes them off the hook for any respsonsibility. They can change their terms and conditions willy-nilly to cocver any eventuality – and you will never know unless you read that 20 minute long, boring legal ridden language everytime you utilize every web page and every credit card and increasingly more every professional you use.

    So let’s top fighting each other over the illusion of political party differences. All politicans real goals are to line their pocket and keep the people distracted with issues which push their emotional buttons: granny taking a pill? Oh, come on. Socialized government? Give me a break. Pro-life or Pro-choice? Politicians, CEO’s and the wealthiest 5% in this country just love to see us arguing about those things, because it keeps us from having any meaningful dialogue about their lack of responsiblity to the people, the total lack of oversight (tired yet of bailing out car companies, Enron’s and greedy bankers?) in the very industries which have time and time again pillaged our Federal tax dollars.

    Wake up people. Start talking to each other about the things that really matter.

    by Sunny — September 24, 2010

  17. Sunny — u are saying everything that everyone else is… u just use more words then anybody else…. ha ha ha 🙄

    by G Martin — September 26, 2010

  18. So,there won’t be a cost of living raise again in 2011 huh?!?!?! What does our congressional representatives think us over 65 retirees are doing with the pennies we get now and the fact that EVERYTHING is going up in cost. If it weren’t for my VA Benifits (socialized medicine) and Medicare (also socialized medicine) I’d be screwed. They say they haven’t raised our taxes in the last 9 years but the cost of living has certainly gone up by at least 27% to 30% during that time. Look at gas prices. Nine years ago it was $1.49 a gallon. Now it’s $3.00 where I live! A loaf of good premium bread was $1.50 a loaf and now it’s $4.29 for the same loaf. These are simple examples but there are greater ones. Almost everything we use or consume has risen 100% in cost. Who ever calculates our cost of living increrases need to use someting other than “New Math” and get touch with reality!!

    by Dennis McGee — September 27, 2010

  19. Come on people . . turn off Fox news and use the internet for more than sharing your uninformed opinions . . .

    Before the COLA became law in 1975 any increase in SS benefits came from legislation passed by Congress. Since that time the increases which occurred every year except the last and have been calculated by the same formula – the cost of living as determined by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).

    Now you might not like this formula and be surprised to find that the government actually has an “experimental” formula for just the elderly (goggle cpi-e). Even though it includes medical care it does not appear very different from the CPI-W, “ Over the period 1983–2000, the CPI-E rose by an annual average of 3.5 percent, while the CPI-W, the index to which Social Security is tied, increased an average of 3.2 percent.”

    Instead of focusing on the .3% you might consider this; between Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid long-term care, we receive more than $1 of every $3 in the federal budget. Speaking of long-term-care, did any of you transfer your assets to your kids so the government / Medicaid would have to pay for your last days?

    Face it people, we are the government’s biggest expense and if you can show a little understanding in the tough times maybe you’re just grouchy old people.

    http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/COLA/colaseries.html
    http://medicine.jrank.org/pages/351/Consumer-Price-Index-Colas-CPI-E.html
    🙄

    by jeremy tschudin — September 28, 2010

  20. Bravo, Jeremy. I agree completely. The point of the article is that social security is in trouble. Most people currently or about to receive benefits from social security will get far more than they ever paid into the system, which wasn’t the original idea. One important reason for that is that we are living longer than when the system was conceived. If we indulge ourselves and ignore the rules that were set up, we will just help make sure that our children and grandchildren never get anywhere near the benefit that we are getting.

    by sid — September 30, 2010

  21. […] » No Social Security COLA Seems Likely for 2011 Topretirements […]

    by What is the law in CA re: raising rent on commercail rental property? | Real Commercial Property — September 30, 2010

  22. In reply to Jeremy.. most of my paid into privatised retirement was stolen by the Wall Street Thieves. My SS that I paid into since I was 16 years old in the early 1960’s has been robbed repeatedly by congress over the years. This nation’s Biggest expenditure is feeding the Military Industrial Complex and all the Wars we are constantly engaged in to protect and advance the special interest of The Rich and the Corporations they run on a Global basis. Lets stop all of the dam Wars that is bankrupting this nation. If we could win one it would be different..what do we ever win?? the opportunity to go to war again. Get the Congress and the Pentagon to pay back what has been stolen from Social Security and then lets look at ways to keep it solvent. We are a nation of People..we the People we are only as strong as our people are secure. Workers that worked hard all of their lives and lost their retirements to the thieves of Wall Street rely on their Social Security for the basic needs of life. Brainwashed people like you Jeremy have no compassion for those that laid the ground work for your place in this nation. You didn’t just wake up free and privileged. A nation of workers that came before you provided you with the opportunities that you have today..Thanks to the Bush regime they are depleted but never the less this is still a nation of opportunities and sacrifices.
    Prices for Utilities and goods have gone up steadily for the last 50 years and wages have not been close to parallel..that is a matter of fact The price of gasoline has not dropped equally with the fall of oil prices per Barrel. Natural Gas is dirt cheap and yet the Power Companies are still showing fuel cost increases and passing it on to the consumer. Not everyone is Ignorant and Naive as Tea Party idiots.

    by James Daniels — September 30, 2010

  23. and to you Sid..I guess it is perfectly alright to Give the Wall Street Thieves $780 Billion, ( The BUSH / Paulson Gift to Wall Street), in corporate Socialist payments to bail them out so they can continue to prey on investors and pay themselves millions in bonuses and salaries ..but it is not OK to shore up Social Security and take care of the workers that helped make this nation the Super Power it WAS! You people are missing the Boat completely in fact you are at the wrong dock. This nation was strong because it made things and had a work force that paid taxes and spent money which fueled capitalism..Now all the wealth is being hoarded at the top and the country is falling apart because of special interest that has Greed as it’s driving agenda. If we don’t go back to fundamental economic common sense our nation will fall apart..we are sliding down a slippery slope right now with all of the divisions that are taking place among our citizens..that will produce nothing but more bad news.

    by James Daniels — September 30, 2010

  24. The Bush Gift to Wall Street was called TARP and it took place a month before Obama was even elected in October of 2008. lets have a TARP for Social Security.

    by James Daniels — September 30, 2010

  25. To Mr. Daniels . . and others who appreciate facts and figures . . I’m 66, old enough to add it up . .

    2011 defense budget = $738B . . SS = $738B + Medicare $498B + $130B (one-third of $381) = $1, 368 Trillion, with a T, dollars out of a proposed budget of $3.69 T, with a T. Even if Afghanistan and Iraq end up costing over $1 trillion (which they will when all the costs are added) that’s LESS THAN ONE YEAR of SS, Medicare, and long-term Medicaid. Come on people, do the math.

    And then there are all the other programs for seniors, aid with heating bill, nutrition, transportation, senior citizen centers and what other goodies can be stuffed in the budget as earmarks. And don’t forget we also get discounts at many stores, Amtrak, hotels, on and on . . . a local liquor store actually gives seniors 10% off Tues- Thurs.

    We are the most comfortable, privileged seniors in the history of this country and no groups behind us will ever have so good. Stop whining. Go to this site and add it up your self. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/02/01/us/budget.html No good will come of fact-free debates.

    by jeremy tschudin — October 1, 2010

  26. As a recipient of SSD, I am not happy that there will not be a COLA increase for 2011. However, those here who are complaining that everything has gone up in price are incorrect. Home prices have collapsed, mortgage rates are at an unprecedented 4.35%, gas prices are stable and have not increased, food prices only increased by 0.5 percent which is the lowest since 1992, automobile companies have been giving huge rebates in 2010, and the only area where I can see a large increase is in health care, but if you have medicare then that will not affect you. A COLA increase is based upon the CPI, and if most areas are down then a COLA increase is not possible.

    by Kenneth Brown — October 1, 2010

  27. Calculations are still used from the 3rd quarter of 2008, since that is the last time we received a raise, as in 2009, that figure being used is the reason we didn’t get a raise, and again I believe that is what they will use for calculation for 2010, however, as someone stated above there is another way of calculating, however I doubt they will use it. I have to agree with some of you with Congress getting raises, their lunch budgets, according to Rick’s List on CNN is over $1700 a month, and all active Federal employees will get a COLA, however not the retirees. Congress are the people that make the decision, according to law whether we get a raise of not, so I guess if we all get angry and call them names they won’t approve anything for us Seniors. I would like to see some sort of raise, because as one of you said, the fuel, groceries, utilities, cable, and HOA’s are going up and in order to live in the community and meet these expenses, one must be on an extremely tight budget, but how do we convince Congress we are needy? My suggestion to the President when I wrote to him is to stop giving so much money away to other countries, use Special Forces teams in Afgan., provide only a percentage of goods to come in from other countries, give the 99’ers an additional 26 weeks, and heavily tax the companies that are outsourcing. No other country in the World that takes care of other countries before it takes care of our own when we are trouble. Since Roosevelt passed the SS Act, it has always be upheld and for Congress and the Government to let it falter , it seems as though the Budget needs to be looked at with the ability to move money at the end of the fiscal year to programs that need money, like SS.

    by Evie Hayes — October 1, 2010

  28. To Dasher who mistakenly said “If you are concerned about the out of control spending and annual deficits of $1.5 trillion maybe you should look to conservatives to reign in spending.”

    It’s the conservatives who got this country in the financial mess it is in! If you want to look at out of control spending then let me introduce you to George W. Bush, who took this country from economic prosperity to the worst deficit we have ever know. Add to that all the right wing rhetoric about abolishing Social Security and you would have to be a lunatic right winger to “look to conservatives” for anything. The only thing I see when I “look” to the right is a bunch of liars who are exploiting people at the lowest end of the socioeconomic scale for their own benefit. The rich repugnicants get richer and to hell with everyone else. May I suggest that no one look to the conservatives unless they want to vomit!

    by Daniel — October 2, 2010

  29. Bravo Daniel! I completely agree that the right wing is wrong when it comes to protecting seniors, the disabled, and people who could never get their share in this country. Now they want to break the promise of Social Security that we all payed into during our working lives. Shame on them. I’m voting Democratic from now on.

    by Maria T — October 2, 2010

  30. 😯 Maybe we get a stimulus check….the big boys on wall street did

    by hank — October 8, 2010

  31. The United States Government has turned it’s back to seniors and it started with Mr. Obama.

    by G. Johnson — October 9, 2010

  32. the cost of living has tripled in the last couple years . my health insurance copays have gone up my coverage has gone up . everything from food to gas has gone up . the social security raise isn’t that much but it does help big time . health insurance does not cover hearing aids , dental or eyecare . this is the care you need when you’re old ! i understand that federal employees will be getting their cost of living raise ??

    by theresa — October 10, 2010

  33. :cry:I am 82…All you people who voted against our increase in the next year-SHAME on YOU!!!!!!!! I, and others cannot manage now! Do you want us all to lose our homes,go hungry,go without proper nutrition,health care,and the normal things that a human being needs to suevive???Where are our so-called REPRESENTATIVE???Who the hell do they represent???? Not anyone under the lowest pay scale we have.I cannot work at my age,alone,a widow,in a home I cannot maintain…or sell.I hope you guys all feel the pain I feel now-and the worry,and sleepless nights….FORCE your way into the house of representatives,and get some help out here will you????Instead of voting yourself a raise,send us 50 million of us ,a crumb….

    by Marilyn Pardo — October 15, 2010

  34. Just remember greed is good! The whole system has been rigged. We need a néw party not rep or dem or tea but the peoples party to go after all these bums that have rigged this system and put in people who are willing to take care of this nation and protect all the things that have been fought for and won. There needs to be dialog which is sadly lacking. The infighting in congress accomplishes nothing and I mean nothing. Maybe 2012 will straighten things out!

    by Edwin — October 27, 2010

  35. Its not even a question, everything keeps going up and they manipulate the CPI so they can use the money to their benefit. The only solution I can see is to vote against all incumbents… they decided to manipulate the CPI and therefore punish all seniors… so lets try to vote them out of office… every year our numbers increase… so lets use our power and get the crooks out!

    by Edward — November 26, 2010

  36. Some people believe everything congress says no raise in social security because they say the economy hasnt went up,that is the biggest lie they have ever told yet,but congress gave theirselves a big fat raise and gas prices was going up before the unrest over in other countries,it was BP that spilled millions and millions of gallons of oil that is the real reason gas is going up,wake up america we are being lied to and we need to stand together and tell those congressman we are not going to take this anymore,they should have to pay back those raises,and the ones on social security are the ones that should recieve their raise,its time to speak up,something just not right

    by sarah — February 25, 2011

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