“… The 2017 cost-of-living adjustment  for Social Security recipients and annuitants in both the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) was 0.3 percent.  …”

 

Social Security beneficiaries have lost nearly one–third of their buying power since 2000, according to the 2017 Social Security Loss of Buying Power Study released today by The Senior Citizens League (TSCL). 

 

The findings represent a big loss of 7 percent in buying power, from 23% in 2016 to 30% over the past 12 months.  This occurred as inflation has begun to climb, but people receiving Social Security received an annual cost – of – living adjustment (COLA) of just 0.3 percent for 2017,” says TSCL’s Social Security policy analyst and the study’s author, Mary Johnson.  Housing and medical costs —particularly for prescription drug expenses — were among the most rapidly – rising spending categories over the past year.

 

The study’s findings illustrate the impact on the buying power of Social Security benefits when the economy goes from a period of extremely low inflation to more typical rates of inflation.  The last time there was a loss in buying power this big was in 2011, another year similar to 2017, when there was no COLA, but inflation spiked.  The following year in 2012 Social Security benefits increased by 3.6 percent.  Based on consumer price index (CPI) data through April of this year, Johnson estimates that the COLA for 2018 may indeed be significantly higher than in recent years —around 2.1 percent — but that number could change since there are still several months to go before all the data is in.

 

The 2017 cost-of-living adjustment  for Social Security recipients and annuitants in both the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) was 0.3 percent.

 

The April Consumer Price Index for Workers (CPI-W) was 238.432, which is 1.4 percent above the average CPI-W for the third quarter (July August, September) of 2016 (235.057).  Since there was a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) issued last year for 2017, this figure will be used as the baseline to determine the 2018 COLA for federal retirees and Social Security recipients.

 

The Consumer Price Index for May 2017 is scheduled to be released on June 14, 2017, at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).    The 2018 federal retiree COLA will be announced in mid-October 2017.   

By Mary Johnson, Social Security Policy Analyst

The Senior Citizens League, June 2017

To read The Senior Citizens League’s full study, go here (10-page PDF)