Navigating Financial Waters, Empowering Your Decisions.

Finance News

Social Security Boost for 2024 Expected at 3.2%: What You Need to Know

Inflation has been a persistent concern for Americans lately, and its impact on Social Security benefits is making headlines once again. The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) has projected that the 2024 Social Security cost of living adjustment (COLA) will rise by 3.2%, following a surge in annual inflation in August. While this increase is a welcome relief for retirees, it falls far short of the historic 8.7% spike seen in 2023.

Rising COLA: A Glimpse into the Future

In 2023, retirees received the highest COLA increase in four decades, standing at 8.7%. However, TSCL reminds us that despite this substantial increase, no one is becoming affluent overnight. The reality remains that the dollar amount received from COLA is modest at best.

Financial Struggles Persist

According to TSCL data, more than half (55%) of beneficiaries in 2023 reported monthly expenses exceeding $2,000, while 45% managed with less. These figures underline the financial challenges that retirees face in meeting their daily needs.

Interestingly, Social Security benefits continue to be the sole source of income for a significant 40.2% of American retirees, as revealed by research conducted by the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS).

The COLA Calculation Process

The official annual COLA announcement for Social Security benefits is scheduled for mid-October. This calculation is mandated by law and relies on the inflation rates from July, August, and September, measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). The rates for these three months are aggregated, averaged, and then compared with the third-quarter average from the previous year. The official COLA percentage difference is reflected in the first Social Security checks issued in January 2024.

Supplementing Retirement Income

In a recent survey by Allianz Life, a staggering 74% of adults expressed that they cannot rely solely on Social Security benefits as a viable component of their retirement income strategy. An overwhelming 88% of respondents highlighted the importance of supplementing Social Security with other sources of guaranteed income to ensure a comfortable retirement.

Kelly LaVigne, Vice President of Consumer Insights at Allianz Life, emphasized that while Social Security is often the foundation of a retirement strategy, it should not constitute the entire plan. Diversifying income sources, including investments and protection products such as annuities, is crucial for financial security in retirement.

Looming Challenges on the Horizon

The road ahead may not be smooth for many future retirees. In 2033, when the Social Security fund (Old-Age & Survivors Insurance or OASI fund) is predicted to become insolvent, the average couple retiring that year could face an annual benefits reduction of $17,400 in today’s dollars, according to analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CFRB).

Upon insolvency, the CFRB notes that the OASI trust fund can only spend in amounts equal to incoming trust fund revenue, resulting in a 23% benefits cut for all 70 million retirees, dependents, and survivors, regardless of their age, income, or need.

Timing Matters: When to Claim Social Security

Financial experts often recommend individuals to start collecting Social Security benefits when they reach their full retirement age or delay until age 70 if possible. Full retirement age varies based on birth year, and at this point, recipients become eligible for their full benefits. Delaying benefits until age 70 can further increase the payout.

However, Americans can begin earning Social Security benefits as early as age 62. It’s essential to note that claiming benefits at this age leads to reduced monthly payments by a certain percentage until full retirement age, determined by various factors, including one’s birth year.

Fidelity Investments highlights that claiming Social Security at age 62 results in a 30% reduction in monthly benefits, while delaying past full retirement age up to age 70 increases benefits by 8% annually.

The Reality of Social Security Coverage

Despite its importance, Social Security benefits typically cover only about one-third of an average middle-income worker’s wages, according to the Social Security Office of Chief Actuary. Adding to the challenge, most older adults claim Social Security before reaching full retirement age, resulting in permanently reduced benefits, as pointed out by TSCL.

Preparing for a Secure Retirement

For those concerned about the adequacy of Social Security benefits, it’s wise to explore options for bolstering savings, such as consolidating high-interest debt with a personal loan at a lower interest rate. Tools like Credible offer the opportunity to compare loan options from different lenders without affecting your credit score.

In an ever-changing financial landscape, understanding the nuances of Social Security benefits and planning for retirement is paramount. Diversifying income sources and managing debt effectively can contribute to a more secure and comfortable retirement journey.

Download our app MadbuMax on the Apple App Store for the latest news and financial tools. Interested in getting your finances in order do not forget to check Dr. Paul Etienne’s best-seller book on personal finance. To access more resources, tools, and services please click here. Also, do not forget to follow Dr. Etienne on IG or Twitter.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *