Each year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announces the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).

 By law, federal benefits increase when the cost of living rises, as measured by the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). Usually, there is an increase in the benefit amount people will receive each month, starting the following January.

 Nearly 69 million Americans will see a 1.6-percent increase in their Social Security benefits and SSI payments in 2020.

 Other changes that will happen in January 2020 reflect the increase in the national average wage index. For example, the maximum amount of earnings subject to Social Security payroll tax will increase to $137,700 from $132,900. The earnings limit for workers who are younger than “full” retirement age (age 66 for people born in 1943 through 1954) will increase to $18,240. (The SSA deducts $1 from benefits for each $2 earned over $18,240.)

 The earnings limit for people turning 66 in 2020 will increase to $48,600. (The SSA will deduct $1 from benefits for each $3 earned over $48,600 until the month the worker turns age 66.)

 In December 2019, the SSA will post Social Security COLA notices online for retirement, survivors, and disability beneficiaries who have a “my Social Security” account. You will be able to view and save future COLA notices via the Message Center inside “my Social Security.”

 You can log in to or sign up for a “my Social Security” account at to get more information about your new benefit amount. You can choose to receive an electronic notification by email, text, or both ways under “Message Center Preferences.” Their notification will let you know that a new message is waiting for you. The SSA will not send any personal information in the notification.

 The Message Center also allows you to go paperless by opting out of receiving agency notices by mail that you can get online, including annual cost-of-living adjustments and the income-related monthly adjustment amount increases.

 The Message Center is a secure portal where you can conveniently receive sensitive communications that they don’t send through email or text.

 More information about the 2020 COLA is available at

 Vonda Van Til is a Social Security public affairs specialist

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