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Under the Law No Social Security COLA for 2011

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Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for more than 58 million Americans will not automatically increase in 2011, the Social Security Administration announced today.

The Social Security Act provides for an automatic increase in Social Security and SSI benefits if there is an increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) from the third quarter of the last year a cost-of-living adjustment ) was determined to the third quarter of the current year. 

As determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is no increase in the CPI-W from the third quarter of 2008, the last year a COLA was determined, to the third quarter of 2010, therefore, under existing law, there can be no COLA in 2011.

Other changes that would normally take effect based on changes in the national average wage index also will not take effect in January 2011. Since there is no COLA, the statute also prohibits a change in the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax as well as the retirement earnings test exempt amounts. These amounts will remain unchanged in 2011. 

The attached fact sheet provides more information on 2011 Social Security and SSI changes.

Information about Medicare changes for 2011, when available, will be found at www.Medicare.gov. The Department of Health and Human Services has not yet announced if there will be any Medicare premium changes for 2011. 

Should there be an increase in the Medicare Part B premium, the law contains a “hold harmless” provision that protects more than 70 percent of Social Security beneficiaries from paying a higher Part B premium, in order to avoid reducing their net Social Security benefit. Those not protected include higher income beneficiaries subject to an income-adjusted Part B premium and beneficiaries newly entitled to Part B in 2011. 

In addition, almost 20 percent of beneficiaries have their Medicare Part B premiums paid by state medical assistance programs and thus will see no change in their Social Security benefit. The state will be required to pay any Medicare Part B premium increase.

For additional information about the 2011 COLA, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/cola

For additional information about changes in the national average wage index, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/COLA/AWI.html.


  o        Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA):

Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits will not automatically increase in 2011 as there is no increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W) from the third quarter of 2008, the last year a COLA was determined, to the third quarter of 2010.  Other important 2011 Social Security information is as follows:




                                                                              2010                           2011

 o        Maximum Taxable Earnings:

Social Security (OASDI only)                                 $106,800                     $106,800*

Medicare (HI only)                                                     N o    L i m i t


o        Quarter of Coverage:                                            $1,120                         $1,120** 

o        Primary Insurance Amount Bend Points:

          First dollar amount                                          $761                            $753

          Second dollar amount                                     $4,583                         $4,542


o         Retirement Earnings Test Exempt Amounts:

Under full retirement age                                          $14,160/yr.                  $14,160/yr.*

                                                                           ($1,180/mo.)                ($1,180/mo.)

NOTE:  One dollar in benefits will be withheld for every $2 in earnings above the limit.

 The year an individual reaches full                               $37,680/yr.                  $37,680/yr.*

  retirement age                                                        ($3,140/mo.)                ($3,140/mo.)

NOTE:  Applies only to earnings for months prior to attaining full retirement age.  One dollar in benefits will be withheld for every $3 in earnings above the limit.


There is no limit on earnings beginning the month an individual attains full retirement age


o       Social Security Disability Thresholds:

 Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)

                        Non-Blind                                           $1,000/mo.                  $1,000/mo.**

                        Blind                                                   $1,640/mo.                  $1,640/mo.*

Trial Work Period (TWP)                                               $   720/mo.                  $   720/mo.**

  o        SSI Federal Payment Standard:

Individual                                                       $674/mo.                     $674/mo.*

Couple                                                             $1,011/mo.                  $1,011/mo.*

o        SSI Student Exclusion:

          Monthly limit                                                  $1,640                         $1,640*

          Annual limit                                                    $6,600                         $6,600*

* By law, these amounts will be unchanged in 2011 because there is no COLA.

**By law, these amounts will be unchanged in 2011 because there was a decrease in the national average wage index for 2009.

History of Automatic Cost-Of-Living Adjustments

Automatic benefit increases, also known as cost-of-living adjustments or COLAs, have been in effect since 1975.  The 1975-82 COLAs were effective with Social Security benefits payable for June (received by beneficiaries in July) in each of those years; thereafter COLAs have been effective with benefits payable for December (received by beneficiaries in January). COLAs for 1975-2011 are shown below.

Automatic Cost-Of-Living Adjustments

July 1975                     8.0%

January 1988               4.2%

January 2000                2.5%

July 1976                     6.4%

January 1989               4.0%

January 2001               3.5%

July 1977                     5.9%

January 1990               4.7%

January 2002               2.6%

July 1978                     6.5%

January 1991               5.4%

January 2003               1.4%

July 1979                     9.9%

January 1992               3.7%

January 2004               2.1%

July 1980                  14.3%

January 1993               3.0%

January 2005               2.7%

July 1981                  11.2%

January 1994               2.6%

January 2006               4.1%

July 1982                     7.4%

January 1995               2.8%

January 2007               3.3%

January 1984               3.5%

January 1996               2.6%

January 2008               2.3%

January 1985               3.5%

January 1997               2.9%

January 2009               5.8%

January 1986               3.1%

January 1998               2.1%

January 2010               0.0%

January 1987               1.3%

January 1999               1.3%

January 2011               0.0%

1 The COLA for December 1999 was originally determined as 2.4 percent based on CPIs published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Pursuant to Public Law 106-554, however, this COLA is effectively now 2.5 percent.

The first automatic COLA, for June 1975, was based on the increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) from the second quarter of 1974 to the first quarter of 1975.  The 1976-82 COLAs were based on increases in the CPI-W from the first quarter of the prior year to the corresponding quarter of the current year in which the COLA became effective.  After 1982, COLAs have been based on increases in the CPI-W from the third quarter of the prior year (or the last year a COLA was determined if there was no COLA the prior year) to the corresponding quarter of the current year.


Subscribe to comments feed Comments (1 posted)

Luke Easter 10/16/2010 16:19:15
COLA (Cost Of Living Adjustment) Is Nada

Does this refer to an ice cold red, white & blue can? Nope!
How about Bill Cosby’s favorite soft drink, good old Coke?
Neither, as COLA refers to something dealing with money,
By no means is it sweet & delicious as queen bee’s honey.

Cost Of Living Adjustments was adopted by U.S. Congress,
In 1970, setting the standard so no one would have to guess,
Where consumer prices are lower than they were 2 years ago,
So a fruitful sip of much needed COLA, Uncle Sam says No.

Almost 59 million retired and disabled Americans are to do,
Minus an increase unless the SSA pushes for something new,
Like a one time $250.00 payment to recipients, wow big deal,
Representatives can spend more than that on an evening meal.

It will face opposition from the Senate if passed by the House,
While many senior citizens munch on trash left by the mouse,
All of the best garbage has already been consumed by the rat,
Every rodent in New York City is plump, juicy & grotesquely fat.

Politicians are worried only because this is an election year,
And more than anything it is the voter’s wrath that they fear,
Not their welfare, safety, health or any more important facts,
The candidates want to get on Capital Hill, sit back & relax.

Isn’t it amazing the Washington elite will not miss a raise,
When they only do any really work three out of seven days,
Many will spend more time on the golf course or the club,
As retirees see light from a candle unable to buy a bulb.

Produce is higher since truckers pay more to fill up rigs,
Seniors keep warm in winter months burning dried twigs,
Okay, why don’t they fill the fireplace with stacks of wood,
Well, most are unable to buy logs so that idea is no good.

As superstar athletes & owners cry foul on contract greed,
Elderly & disabled are unable to meet basic human needs,
Billion dollar banks and brokerages were bailed out why?
Multi-million $ paydays reward failure, now that’s real SSI.

America the Beautiful, capitalism unlimited, military elite,
Fraudulent mortgage foreclosures, thousands on the street,
Damage & destruction on par with the deadly virus Ebola,
And all they ever desired in life is a decent glass of COLA.
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