Social Security: Check your COLA in 2012

Jun 18, 2012, 6 a.m.

The Social Security outlook for 2012 is a bit more encouraging than 2011, but still remains equally stagnant. Let's go with the good news first: There will be a COLA 2012. After no cost of living adjustment in 2011, this qualifies as good news. Now the bad news: COLA 2012 is only 3.6 percent . Didn't the cost of just three items, gasoline, food and heating oil, far surpass that percentage in an average week, at times?

This is the first COLA since 2009, so it is a much welcomed change. However, for those seniors needing this income to make household budgets work, the Social Security outlook is troubling. With no COLA increases for the past three years , while food, utilities and health care costs have skyrocketed, Social Security benefits have remained at 2009 levels.

You do not need a PhD in Economics to realize that these numbers do not work. Most people are aware that the Social Security Trust Fund is not in good health. However, for many Americans, this is their only source of retirement income. Although not an ideal situation, it is reality and Congress must understand this fact.

While the fund will need some major adjustments for future retirees, younger people in the current workplace have access to many more retirement fund options than most current retirees could access. At least there are COLA 2012 increases, however modest. How do you feel about the Social Security outlook for the near and longer term future?

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