YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Social Security Payments Will Increase 3.5%

October 19, 2000|From the Washington Post

WASHINGTON — The 45 million Americans who rely on Social Security will receive 3.5% more in their checks from the government starting in January, the largest increase under the nation's retirement system in nearly a decade, the U.S. announced Wednesday.

The adjustment, designed to keep pace with the cost of living, means that the average Social Security payment to retirees will increase $29 a month to $845, while the largest payment will rise $103 a month to $1,536.

Benefits will increase at the same rate for other groups covered by Social Security--including people with disabilities and families whose primary breadwinner has died--as well as the 6.3 million people who qualify for Supplemental Security Income payments, which go to the poor and disabled.

Millions of civil service and military retirees also will receive 3.5% more in their retirement checks, according to the Office of Personnel Management.

The increase, announced by Social Security Commissioner Kenneth Apfel, an annual ritual of great importance to the growing ranks of elderly Americans, reflects the continued low inflation rate in the U.S., a rate that nonetheless was a bit higher in the last year than at any time since 1991. The cost-of-living increase was 2.4% last year and 1.3% the year before.

Apfel, the program's commissioner, also announced an increase in the earnings on which workers must pay Social Security taxes, from $76,200 to $80,400.

The Social Security program adjusts benefits each fall to match the changes over the previous year in the consumer price index.

Social Security is on surer footing financially than it has been in recent years. But its long-term future is precarious and has prompted feverish debate in the presidential campaigns and on Capitol Hill.

As a result of the strong economy, the trust fund from which benefits are paid is expected to cover the program's expenses until 2037, several years longer than anticipated even a few years ago.

Nevertheless, Social Security is certain to confront enormous strains starting in about a decade, when the baby boom generation begins to reach retirement age and the number of younger workers paying taxes into the system declines.

Los Angeles Times Articles