Phillips & Ingrum

No COLA, Pepsi – Social Security Numbers Update

By Grayson Cannon

Phillips-Ingrum-Headshots-15_finalEach year in mid-October, Social Security releases a list of Social Security changes related to the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) built into the regulations. The new numbers are to be effective with the first day of the following calendar year. Those numbers for 2016 came out on October 15, and as you may have already heard, there is no cost of living adjustment for Social Security beneficiaries this year. This has happened before, but is a very infrequent occurrence. It happens when the Consumer Price Index, to which Social Security COLA’s are tied, does not increase from the third quarter of last year to the third quarter of this year. The last time there was no COLA occurred in 2010 and 2011.
Because there is no COLA this year, the maximum amount of SSI benefits payable each month remains at $733 per month for an individual and $1100 per month for a couple. SSI income and resource limits (which are not tied to the COLA) will also remain the same.
The maximum amount of earnings a Social Security Disability beneficiary may have (known as the Substantial Gainful Activity threshold) will go up to $1130 per month from last year’s $1090. This number is not tied to a cost of living adjustment but is set by the Commissioner each year. The maximum Social Security individual benefit will actually go down because there was no COLA but there was an increase in the national wage index – it is now $2639 per month. Retirement earnings test exempt amounts (the amount a retired benefit recipient may earn before retirement benefits will be offset) for both early retirement and the first year of full retirement age will remain the same as in 2015.
This will obviously be a difficult year for both Social Security and SSI benefit recipients. For more information visit Social Security’s website at and click on the article on the homepage regarding this year’s changes; or review the fact sheet on 2016 Social Security Changes found at