Social Security Benefit Payments To Increase by 1.7 Percent in 2015

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By Larry Swisher

Oct. 22 — Social Security beneficiaries will receive a 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment in their monthly payments in 2015 following a 1.5 percent increase this year, the Social Security Administration announced Oct. 22.

More than 58 million Social Security retirees, dependents, and survivors will receive the COLA beginning with benefits payable in January, while more than 8 million Supplemental Security Income recipients will begin receiving it on Dec. 31, 2014, SSA said in a statement. Some beneficiaries receive payments under both programs.

More than 2.5 million federal government retirees also will receive a 1.7 percent COLA, according to the American Federation of Government Employees.

The amount of the annual COLA is calculated based on the year-over-year increase in the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers (CPI-W) as of the third quarter.

The CPI report for September, the final month of the quarter, was released on Oct. 22 by the Labor Department.

Average Check Up $22

The SSA said that as a result of the 2015 COLA, the average retired worker's Social Security benefit will increase by $22 to $1,328 per month.

Next year's COLA will be the fourth in a row. Because of a lack of inflation, retirees did not receive increases in 2009 and 2010.

For Social Security recipients who are less than full retirement age and have earnings from work, the annual maximum amount of exempt earnings will rise next year by $240 to $15,720.

For each $2 earned above the maximum, $1 in Social Security benefits will be withheld.

There is no limit on earnings beginning the month a person attains full retirement age.

Taxable Earnings Rise

SSA also announced that effective Jan. 1, 2015, the annual maximum amount of earnings subject to Social Security taxes will increase by $1,500 to $118,500.

The increase is based on the gain in workers' average wages over the past year.

About 10 million of the 168 million workers who pay Social Security taxes will face higher taxes in 2015 because of the rise in taxable earnings, the agency estimated.

To contact the reporter on this story: Larry Swisher in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan J. McGolrick at