Automatic Determinations

Cost-of-Living Adjustment

COLA History

COLA effect on Social Security retirement benefits

Calculation of retirement benefits

Social Security benefit data by…
    benefit type or
    family type

New beneficiaries coming onto Social Security's rolls tend to have, on average, higher benefits than those leaving, so average benefits normally rise from month to month. This gradual rise in average benefits is altered by abrupt increases due to annual cost-of-living adjustments or COLAs. The COLA for December 2014 is 1.7 percent and is first payable in January 2015.

The table below provides estimated average benefits for certain beneficiary types, at the end of December 2014.

Estimated effect of 1.7-percent COLA on average benefits
at the end of December 2014
Type of benefit Before
1.7% COLA
After
1.7% COLA
Increase
Retired worker $1,306 $1,328 $22
Spouse of retired worker 662 673 11
Aged widow(er) 1,254 1,276 22
Disabled widow(er) 712 724 12
Disabled worker 1,146 1,165 19
Note: The above estimates are based on actual benefit data through September 2014.


The table below provides estimated average benefits for selected family types.

Estimated effect of 1.7-percent COLA on average family benefits
at the end of December 2014
Type of family Before
1.7% COLA
After
1.7% COLA
Increase
Disabled worker, spouse, and children $1,943 $1,976 $33
Retired worker and aged spouse 2,140 2,176 36
Surviving child(ren) onlya 1,059 1,077 18
Aged widow(er) alone 1,253 1,274 21
Widowed mother and 2 children 2,629 2,674 45
a Family with one or more children excludes surviving parent or guardian who is ineligible to receive benefits.
Note: The above estimates are based on actual benefit data through September 2014.