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Social Security Commissioner Kenneth S. Apfel Announces 2.4 Percent Social Security Increase

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October 19, 1999

Cathy Noe/ John Trollinger/Carolyn Cheezum

For Immediate Release

410-965-8904 FAX 410-966-9973


Social Security Online

SOCIAL SECURITY

News Release

Social Security Commissioner Kenneth S. Apfel Announces
2.4 Percent Social Security Increase

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits will increase 2.4 percent in 2000, Kenneth S. Apfel, Commissioner of Social Security announced today.

"This year's cost-of-living allowance reflects another year of very low inflation," Commissioner Apfel said. "Inflation is the greatest fear and worst enemy of elderly and disabled Americans living on fixed incomes."

"The cost of living adjustment is a centrally important feature of Social Security that insures that beneficiaries, no matter how long they live, will retain their purchasing power as costs rise," Commissioner Apfel said.

The 2.4 increase will begin with benefits that Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2000. Increased payments to SSI recipients will begin on December 30.

For Social Security beneficiaries, the average monthly benefit amount for all retired workers will rise from $785 to $804. The maximum federal SSI monthly payments to an individual will rise from $500 to $512. For a couple, the maximum federal SSI payment will rise from $751 to $769.

Social Security and SSI benefits increase automatically each year based on the rise in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) from the third quarter of one year through the corresponding period of the next. This year's increase in the CPI-W was 2.4 percent.

Automatic COLAs became effective in 1975.

Commissioner Apfel also announced a number of changes today determined by another automatic provision of the law tied to the average increase in wages. They include:

· The maximum amount of earnings subject to the payroll tax will increase to $76,200 from $72,600;

· The maximum amount of earnings that a beneficiary under age 65 may earn without losing any Social Security benefits will increase from $9,600 this year to $10,080 in 2000 (Although established by law and not tied to average wage increases, the maximum amount of earnings a beneficiary age 65 to 69 may earn without losing any Social Security benefits will increase from $15,500 this year to $17,000 in 2000);

· The amount of earnings required to earn a quarter of coverage will increase to $780, up from $740 this year.

As a result of the increase in the wage base in 2000, the maximum yearly Social Security tax paid by employees and employers will increase by $223.20 each. For self-employed workers, it will rise by $446.40. About 10.9 million workers are affected by the higher wage base in 2000.

 

NOTE TO CORRESPONDENTS: A fact sheet showing the effect of the various automatic adjustments is available by clicking here.

For further information on the COLA by the Office of the Actuary, click here.

For the detailed Federal Register article on the increase, please click here.
(A copy of the Federal Register article is no longer available on Social Security Online.)

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