Upcoming Social Security benefit increase will not please retirees at all

Amelia Ross
5 Min Read

Social Security benefits are a crucial part of retirement for many Americans. These benefits are adjusted yearly based on the cost of living, known as Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLAs). Unfortunately, recent projections for the 2025 COLA suggest that the increase might be significantly lower than in previous years. This is concerning for retirees who rely heavily on these payments to keep up with their living expenses. Let’s dive into the details of these projections and understand their potential impact.

The Expected Social Security Benefit Increase

In the past few years, retirees have seen significant increases in their Social Security benefits due to COLAs. In 2022, the benefits increased by 5.9%, followed by 8.7% in 2023, and 3.2% in 2024. However, the projections for 2025 indicate a much smaller increase.

Initially, the Senior Citizens League (TSCL) predicted a 2.6% increase, but this has been revised down to 2.57%. This marks the weakest COLA in years, which could be disappointing for many retirees.

Impact of a Lower COLA for 2025

A lower COLA means that retirees will receive a smaller increase in their Social Security benefits. This can make it harder for them to keep up with inflation and cover their living expenses. The revised projections from TSCL are based on the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which showed a 3.3% year-over-year change in the Consumer Price Index for Wage Earners and Urban Clerical Workers (CPI-W) in May. If this trend continues, the third-quarter CPI-W data, used to calculate the COLA, might show a lower-than-expected increase.

Understanding the CPI-W and Its Influence on COLA

The CPI-W is used to calculate COLAs, but it may not accurately reflect the spending patterns of retirees, who are often not wage earners or urban clerical workers. Despite this, it remains the traditional measure for determining COLA.

The third-quarter CPI-W data is particularly important, and if it shows a lower year-over-year increase, the COLA for 2025 will likely be lower. This is a concern for retirees who have come to rely on larger benefit increases in recent years.

The Implications of Lower Inflation

While a lower inflation rate is generally positive, it can be problematic for retirees expecting larger benefit increases. If the CPI-W continues to trend lower, indicating that inflation is not as high as anticipated, retirees might see very little increase in their Social Security benefits. This can be disappointing for those who have been used to more substantial increases and are relying on them to cover their costs.

Preparing for a Smaller COLA

Retirees should start preparing for the possibility of a smaller COLA in 2025. Accepting that their Social Security benefits may not rise as much as in previous years is important. Unless there is a significant turnaround in the economy, the trend of lower COLAs is likely to continue. This means retirees might need to find other ways to supplement their income or adjust their spending to cope with smaller benefit increases.

The latest projections for the 2025 COLA suggest that retirees might face a smaller increase in their Social Security benefits. While lower inflation is generally a good sign, it can lead to disappointing news for those expecting larger benefit increases. Retirees should be prepared for this possibility and consider adjusting their financial plans accordingly.


1. What is COLA?

COLA stands for Cost-of-Living Adjustment, which is an annual increase in Social Security benefits to help retirees keep up with inflation.

2. How is the COLA calculated?

COLA is calculated based on the Consumer Price Index for Wage Earners and Urban Clerical Workers (CPI-W) data from the third quarter of each year.

3. Why is the 2025 COLA expected to be lower?

The 2025 COLA is expected to be lower due to a decrease in the CPI-W, indicating lower inflation rates than previously anticipated.

4. How will a lower COLA affect retirees?

A lower COLA will mean smaller increases in Social Security benefits, making it harder for retirees to keep up with living expenses.

5. What can retirees do to prepare for a smaller COLA?

Retirees can prepare by adjusting their financial plans, finding other sources of income, or reducing their expenses to cope with the smaller benefit increases.

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