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SSA Pays "un-COLA" for 2016

January 12, 2016

The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) to annually adjust benefits paid to Social Security beneficiaries and Supplemental Security  Income (SSI) recipients.  As there was no increase in the CPI-W from the third quarter of 2014 to the third quarter of 2015, SSA announced a “diet COLA” (cost-of-living-adjustment) for 2016 with no increase in monthly benefits.

The monthly SSI federal benefit rate for an individual will remain at $733 and the monthly rate for a couple will stay at $1,100.  The New York supplement will continue at $87 for individuals and $104 for couples living alone; the living with others supplements remain at $23 and $46, respectively. A 2016 New York State SSI benefit chart is available at:

Thanks to Jim Murphy of Legal Services of Central New York, SSI benefit charts from 1976 to 2015 are available at

Although there is no COLA, some of SSA’s benchmarks are tied to the national wage index rather than the CPI. Therefore, Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) threshold for Non-Blind has increased to $1,130 per month.  The SGA level for blind workers, however, is tied to the CPI and remains at $1,820.  The Trial Work Period (TWP) threshold increased to $810 per month (from $780).  The quarter of coverage amount has increased to $1,260.  The maximum taxable earnings for OASDI (old-age, survivors and disability insurance) purposes will remain at $118,500 in 2016.

Most beneficiaries will not see an increase in Medicare Part B monthly premiums from $104.90 per month in 2016.  Some higher earning beneficiaries will have higher premium rates. For more details, see

For SSA’s Fact Sheet on 2016 Social Security Changes, see


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