Despite an effort in Congress to push forward an emergency bill raising the cost of living adjustment for Social Security for 2021, the announced COLA of 1.3% still currently stands. Why does this matter? A substantial number of retirees - 40% - rely solely on Social Security to live. That figure is according to a National Institute on Retirement Security report released in the halcyon days of January 2020, when COVID-19 was just a blip on most Americans' radar.

Things could arguably be worse now.

In an odd sort of twist, the COLA for Social Security -- for people who no longer work, don't commute, and no longer have a steady paycheck -- is calculated based on what people who are working pay for certain things. By law it is calculated using the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. But some point out that this index of costs faced by workers doesn't accurately reflect the costs of things that retirees typically purchase. That's why some say that the COLA should be calculated using an elderly-specific price index such as the Experimental Consumer Price Index for Americans 62 Years of Age and Older, aka the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E).

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C.J. Marwitz

C.J. Marwitz is a writer and editor.