Pensioners to receive 1.3% raise at year’s end

ATLANTA — Beneficiaries of two federal programs will receive a 1.3% cost of living adjustment, according to Social Security Administration (SSA) data released last month.

The 8.05 million Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries will see the increase in December, while the 69.7 million Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) beneficiaries will receive additional pay beginning in January.

Since 1983, cost of living adjustments (COLAs) have been based on increases in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).

On average, the last decade of cost of living increases have been about one-half of the increases received in 1990s and 2000s, which can be attributed to low inflation figures. 

For the decade beginning in 1990, the average COLA was 2.89% and 2.73% for the decade starting in 2000. The 2010 decade average was 1.52%. 2010 and 2015 saw no increase in pay. 2016’s increase was 0.3%. 2018’s increase of 2.8% was the highest since 2011’s 3.6% raise.

The Substantial Gainful Activity income threshold, the determination definition used by the SSA to gauge a claimant’s ability level, will also increase. 

For non-blind recipients in 2021, the new level is $1,310 per month, a jump from $1,260 in 2020 and $1,220 in 2019. The SGA level for the blind will increase in 2021 to $2,190, which is an increase from the 2020 amount of $2,110 and the 2019 limit of $2,040.

The tax rate for employed and self-employed is unchanged. Self-employed will continue to pay a 15.30% rate while employed pay 7.65%. The maximum taxable earnings amount will increase to $142,800, an increase from the 2020 amount of $137,700 and 2019’s $132,900 ceiling.

2,130,938 Georgians receive payments from these programs: 1,871,862 from the retirement and disability programs and 259,076 from the supplemental income program. 

The 2021 increases will be:

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