Social Security: How Current Checks Compare to 2021

by Victoria Santiago

Millions of Americans might have noticed that their social security checks went up this year. That’s no accident.

70 million people will be getting increased benefits that could be worth up to $1,658 per month. This is thanks to a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).

Compared to 2021, social security benefits are 5.9% higher. Last year, the average monthly payment for retired workers was $1,565. With this COLA raise, that average payment has risen to $1,657.

Millions have already gotten their first increased check, since social security payments are sent out based on birth dates. For example, claimants born between January 1 and January 10 got their first check on January 12. The payment schedule has recently been released for March, too. And, of course, they go off of birth date. Checks will get sent out on March 9, 16, and 23.

This Is the Biggest COLA Increase In Decades

This year’s COLA increase is the biggest one since 1982. This is due to the sky-high inflation that has been affecting the U.S. economy.

The COLA raises are based on third-quarter data from the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).

The record 5.9% COLA increase was set near the end of last year, on October 13. The next COLA increase for 2023 will be set in October of this year.

COLA raises are adjusted every year, but that doesn’t always result in higher payments. Based on the economy, benefits payments could even stay the same. This has happened in recent years, but the pandemic has caused prices to skyrocket.

While this is the biggest COLA raise in a long time, some are worried that it still isn’t enough. Many wage earners are having a hard time keeping up with rising costs, so we’ll just have to see how this year pans out.

Checking Your Social Security Benefits Amount

Social security claimants should have gotten a letter in the mail about this raise. The SSA sent out COLA notices through the entire month of December. The average has increased, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get that amount.

If you didn’t get a letter from the SSA, or you no longer have it, you can check your benefit amount in other ways. The best alternative option is to go online. You can check your new benefit amount by using the message center in your social security account. According to The Sun, that information has been available online since early December 2021.

There are other things that impact how much your benefit payments are worth. For example, how long your career lasted and the age that you retired at both impact the monthly payments. In fact, the age to retire just went up. Thankfully, this is the last time that the age for claiming benefits will rise. For anyone born after 1960, the new full retirement age is 67. You can still collect payments at 62, but you’ll incur a penalty by doing so.