The annual cost-of-living increase in Social Security next yearis projected to remain in record low territory, grim news forseniors dependent on those monthly checks to cover theirexpenses.

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According to a forecast by the Senior Citizens League, based onthe most recent consumer price index data, the 2015 boost in SocialSecurity checks will amount to a meager 1.7 percent.

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The Social Security Administration won’t be announcing itsofficial rate of increase for beneficiaries until later in themonth, but Senior Citizens League Chairman Ed Cates said in astatement that he didn’t expect the September CPI data to make muchof a difference and predicted that “(t)he 2015 COLA will mostlikely be stuck in the low range of 1.6 to 1.8 percent.”

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“That would make the sixth consecutive year of record lowCOLAs,” Cates said. “That’s unprecedented since the COLA firstbecame automatic in 1975.”

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The inflation index used to calculate COLA increases has beenflat for the last five years, and therefore COLAs have followedalong. Inflation has been growing at an average rate of 1.4 percentper year since 2010. The average was more than twice that, at 3percent, for much of the 2000s.

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Beneficiaries won’t be thrilled at the news, since they’ve beensteadily losing ground in buying power. While their benefitsincreased by less than $19 a month in 2014, expenses rose by morethan $119, according to a survey by Cates organization. A 1.7percent increase in 2015 would only lift benefits by about $20 amonth.

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Since 2000, according to a study by the advocacy group, SocialSecurity beneficiaries have seen a 31 percent plunge in theirbuying power.

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What will make seniors even more unhappy is the news thatCongress is still considering switching to the “chained CPI” as ameans of reducing Social Security costs. Changes already made byCongress, since the late 1990s, to the methods by which COLAs arecalculated have already lowered the measured rate of inflation by0.7 percent per year, according to the Congressional Budget Office.Cates’ group supports the use of the Consumer Price Index for theElderly.

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