The federal government's budget problems have become an ongoing national soap opera and perhaps an emerging national tragedy.
The year began with a resolution to the fiscal crisis known as the Fiscal Cliff. Before long, however, the across-the-board federal spending cuts required by a peculiar Congressional procedure called the Sequester took hold. As we discussed in our September 13 post, those cuts have made it more difficult for people with disabilities to get the services they need. Funding for special education is only one example of this.
And then, last month, came the 16-day government shutdown. Though the shutdown has thankfully ended, it left a legacy of concern about future funding of worthy government programs, including Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
With this back story, it comes as welcome news that an annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security benefits will go ahead next year.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) made the announcement last week. The COLA adjustment will be 1.5 percent next year.
To be sure, annual COLA adjustments like this are written right into the law. They do not require Congressional action from year to year. Instead, they take effect automatically, based on government's calculations of the inflation rate.
Given the federal government's recent budget struggles, however, it was entirely possible that Congress could have imposed a freeze in benefits of some sort for 2014. Thankfully, this will apparently not be the case for SSI income.
The COLA for SSI affects millions of people. Across the nation, about 8 million people will be affected.
Of course, the number of people who receive Social Security benefits is even larger still. That number is about 57 million. And they too will receive the COLA increase.
Source: disability scoop, "Social Security, SSI Benefits To Rise In 2014," Michelle Diament, Oct. 30, 2013