Cost-of-Living Adjustment to Disability Benefits
Social Security law includes a provision for cost-of-living adjustments, often called COLAs, which increase the amount of your disability benefit. The purpose of the COLAs is to help your Social Security benefits keep up with inflation.
When COLAs are Payable
You will get a cost-of- living increase in your Social Security disability check if during the previous fiscal year there was an increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. If there is no increase in the Index, then there is no increase in Social Security Disability benefits. For example, Social Security announced a 1.7 percent increase in gross disability benefits for 2015 because there was a 1.7 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index for the fiscal year ending September 2014. But, there were no increases in benefits in 2011 and 2016 because there was no increase in the Index in the prior year. COLA increases begin with the December benefit of the year the Index increases and are paid in January.
Finding Out If There Will Be a COLA
Whether or not there will be a cost-of-living adjustment and the amount of any increase are announced in the fourth quarter of each year. In addition to a public announcement, the Social Security Administration will send you a letter that shows the new amount of your Social Security disability check, including the cost-of-living increase, if any. For information about how your base disability benefit is calculated, see our article “If I Am Approved for Disability, How Much Will My Social Security Disability Benefit Be?”