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Low COLA adjustment announced for recipients of SSI benefits

Many Tennessee residents receive Social Security disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income benefits. Whether due to a disability that began later in life or one they have dealt with since birth, these benefits can provide a crucial lifeline for many Americans.

The federal government has recently announced that there will be only a minor cost-of-living adjustment for those who receive SSDI and SSI benefits in 2017. The cost-of-living adjustment, which the government bases on consumer prices, will increase an individual's monthly benefits by only 0.3 percent next year.

Though the increase is low, due in part to low inflation, it is a change from 2016 in which there was no increase in monthly benefits. The COLA has been low in recent years, at zero three times since 2008, and only above two percent once since 2008. Since 2009, the average annual COLA has been 1.2 percent. The federal government determined the rate of 0.3 by averaging third-quarter inflation figures, which are measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.

This low COLA increase will affect more than eight million individuals who receive SSI-related benefits, as well as many millions of others who receive veterans' disability benefits and other SSDI benefits, including children.

Tennesseans who are applying for SSI benefits or who have questions about their existing benefits may want to seek counsel from an attorney. Though this low COLA may be discouraging for some SSI and SSDI recipients, the financial assistance that these monthly benefits can provide is tremendous for individuals who are elderly or disabled.

Source: CBS News, "Next year's Social Security raise? Less than $4 a month," Oct. 18, 2016

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