© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Social Security card designs over the past several decades are shown in this photo illustration taken in Toronto, Canada on January 7, 2017. REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang/File Photo
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. retirees and government benefits recipients will get a 3.2% increase next year, the federal government said on Thursday, announcing its smallest annual increase in three years after beneficiaries got a boost this year to keep up with inflation.
The much-anticipated announcement of the annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) to the monthly benefits paid out by the Social Security Administration follows U.S. consumer price data on Thursday that showed a steady moderation in underlying inflation pressures.
Beneficiaries this year saw an 8.7% increase — the largest increase since 1981 and the fourth biggest ever — as the federal government moved to help more than 70 million recipients keep up with raging inflation.
With consumer prices moderating, more than 65 million Social Security retirement benefits recipients and more than 7 million Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will get roughly one-third of that increase in 2024, with the beneficiaries getting about $50 more per month on average.
“This will help millions of people keep up with expenses,” Acting Commissioner of Social Security Kilolo Kijakazi said in a statement.
Inflation remains higher than the 10 years prior to the pandemic, although it has slowed from its peak rate in the summer of 2022. The COLA has averaged 2.8% since 1984. From 2010 through 2019, it averaged just 1.4% and in three of those 10 years the government did not increase benefit amounts at all.