Jane Burigsay
Courtesy: Social Security Administration

Every year, we announce the annual cost-of-living adjustment, also referred to as COLA. By law, federal benefits increase when the cost of living rises, as measured by the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, or CPI-W. There is usually an increase in the benefit amount people will receive each month, beginning the following January.

Nearly 69 million Americans will see a 1.6 percent increase in their Social Security benefits and SSI payments in 2020.

Other changes that will happen in January 2020 reflect the increase in the national average wage index. For example, the maximum amount of earnings subject to Social Security payroll tax will increase from $132,900 to $137,700. The earnings limit for workers who are younger than “full” retirement age (age 66 for people born between 1943 and 1954) will increase to $18,240. (Social Security deducts $1 from benefits for each $2 earned over $18,240.)

The earnings limit for people turning 66 in 2020 will increase to $48,600. (We deduct $1 from benefits for each $3 earned over $48,600 until the month the worker turns age 66.)

Last month, we posted Social Security COLA notices online for retirement, survivors and disability beneficiaries who have a my Social Security account. You can view and save future COLA notices via the Message Center inside my Social Security.

You can get more information about your new benefit amount by logging in to or signing up for a my Social Security account today at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. You can also choose to receive an electronic notification by email, text or both ways under “Message Center Preferences.” Our notification will let you know that a new message is waiting for you. Rest assured that we will not send any personal information in the notification. The Message Center also allows you to go paperless by opting out of receiving agency notices by mail that you can get online, including annual cost-of-living adjustments and the income-related monthly adjustment amount increases. The Message Center is a secure portal where you can conveniently receive sensitive communications that we don’t send through email or text.

More information about the 2020 COLA is available at www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.

Jane Burigsay is Social Security’s public affairs specialist in Hawai‘i.

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