October, 2023

October Update: Is Social Security Keeping Up with Inflation?

Social Security Spotlight: Cost of Living Adjustment
RSSA | Social Security Newsletter | October 2023
October 2023 Newsletter


Hi there. Please enjoy reading our newsletter filled with news and information on Social Security, retirement, and Medicare. Please reach out at info@rssa.com with any feedback on our newsletters. We are always happy to hear from you!


RSSA Announcements

We have enjoyed traveling around the country to attend and present at some incredible events, meet new people, and connect with you! Last week, we attended the NAPFA 2023 Fall National Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. Please introduce yourself if you attend an upcoming event. Check out our upcoming events here.
And don’t forget to check out photos from all of these events on our Instagram and LinkedIn pages.


Top Stories


The 2024 Social Security COLA is 3.2 Percent
Source: RSSA


The September 2023 Consumer Price Index (CPI) report was released, providing the final calculation for the 2024 Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). And the official 2024 Social Security COLA is 3.2 percent. So what does this mean for beneficiaries? Read the story.


Medicare Open Enrollment Has Begun

Source: RSSA


Medicare’s open enrollment period has begun. It officially began October 15th and closes on December 7, 2023. If you haven’t started to prepare, you can begin now with these 3 suggestions. Read now.


Empowering Communities: The Symbiotic Relationship Between RSSA, Social Security, and Credit Unions

Source: RSSA


“Credit unions are not just financial entities; they are pillars of community support. Their primary goal is to empower their members with easy to use and access products, knowledge and guidance, fostering financial literacy and stability. By integrating RSSA and Social Security knowledge and software into their services, credit unions align themselves with their mission of community support.” Read the story.


Fiduciary Best Practice: Emphasizing the Role of RSSA in Holistic Financial Planning

Source: RSSA


In a world where financial decisions carry profound implications, the role of fiduciary advisors has never been more crucial. Read about integrating the RSSA program and software into your practice. Read.


Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustment set at 3.2% — less than half of the current year’s increase
Source: CBS News

Read about the 2024 Social Security COLA and what Martha Shedden tells CBS News’ Aimee Picchi about it. Read the article.


Social Security benefits will increase by 3.2% in 2024 as inflation moderates

Source: Associated Press


“Compared to last year’s 8.7% increase, this is going to feel small and the perception is that its not keeping up with the inflation and the higher costs that retirees are still seeing,” Martha Shedden says to Associated Press regarding the smaller 2024 COLA. Read more.


Ask Martha  

Question: I discovered recently that my husband passed away in 2012. We were still married but not together. Am I still entitled to receive survivor benefits and how far back will they pay?
Martha’s response: Yes, you are still entitled to survivor benefits if you are still legally married. The SSA pays up to 6 months retroactive survivor benefits…Read the full response.
Question: My spouse has no earnings history. In the event of my death, will their spousal benefit switch to a higher survivor benefit?
Martha’s response: If your spouse is collecting spousal benefits and you pass away, she will be eligible for survivor benefits and will receive the higher amount of the two. Spousal benefits are only up to 50% of your full benefit, and even less if claimed early. Therefore, the survivor benefit will most likely increase the amount she receives since it is the full amount you were eligible for at the time of your death. Survivor benefit rules are the most complicated and allow more flexibility…Read the full response.


Listen up: Social Security Podcast   

In this episode, Martha sits down with Nadine Burns, Certified Financial Planner and President and CEO of A New Path Financial, LLC. They discuss Nadine’s views on retirement planning, especially for women, and why they should think about the financiers of retirement differently then men do.
You can listen to Social Security Answers from the Experts on Spotify, Google, Apple or anywhere you listen to podcasts. You can even watch the live recordings on our YouTube channel. Listen here or watch on YouTube.


Social Security Spotlight: Cost of Living Adjustment  

What is the Cost of Living Adjustment? The Cost of Living Adjustment, also known as COLA, is an automatic annual increase to Social Security benefits meant as a way to keep pace with inflation.

How is the COLA determined? The Social Security Administration calculates the COLA based on the increase in the CPI-W (Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers) in the third quarter of the current year compared to the increase in the CPI-W in the third quarter of the previous year. The third quarter includes July, August, and September. The CPI-W is determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Department of Labor.

What is the history behind COLAs? Congress enacted the COLA provision as part of the 1972 Social Security Amendments. The first automatic annual COLA began in 1975. Prior to 1975, Social Security benefits were increased only when Congress enacted special legislation.

Are COLAs guaranteed? No, it all depends on the CPI-W. Since 1975, there have only been a few years with a zero percent COLA. Most recently, there was no COLA in 2016.

What is the 2024 COLA? The 2024 COLA was recently announced, and it is 3.2 percent.

Learn more about the COLA here.


Case Study of the Month  

William and Kathy are married and have a child, Marcus, who is permanently disabled. William stopped working and filed for retirement benefits last year, at age 63. Kathy is 58, earning over $100k annually. Because of her high earnings, Kathy is not collecting a spousal child-in-care benefit but Marcus is collecting a children’s benefit. Marcus and William’s benefits total $4,000 each month in 2023.

Does Marcus receive the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) of 3.2% increase on his benefits?
Yes, all Social Security beneficiaries receive the COLA. For Marcus’s portion of benefits, this increase is from $1,600 in 2023 to $1,651 in 2024 monthly. This is due to William’s primary insurance amount (PIA) increasing with the COLA.

Does this COLA of 3.2% impact Kathy’s future benefits, assuming she will be collecting her own retirement benefit in the future?
COLAs do not increase a person’s PIA until the first January after they reach age 62. Thus, Kathy will not see a direct impact to her benefit. The index factor used in calculating her PIA for earnings in 2023 will account for inflation in this year.


Medicare & Insurance Agents

The unequivocal close relationship between Medicare & Social Security cannot be denied, and Social Security optimization is the cornerstone to retirement planning. Education, empathy, and a compassionate understanding of where a client is on their life journey, and addressing what they’re worried about is essential in today’s world. It requires a holistic approach that communicates to clients that you understand what is in their best interest.

Jumping the market and being able to speak with your target demographic before they reach Medicare age outside of Medicare marketing guidelines will create a sales funnel of those who are going to be claiming Social Security and Medicare for the next 15 years.

Turn Social Security prospects into Medicare clients using the RSSA® Program. The RSSA® Program is a turn-key Social Security education, technology, marketing, and support program to help your organization build a sales funnel, fill seats at events, and open the door to organic Medicare, Insurance, and Wealth Management sales opportunities.

Learn More about the RSSA® Program.

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