Social Security Benefits Likely to Increase Next Year, Even if Biden Doesn't Act

Before assuming office, President Joe Biden set out a number of changes to Social Security. Many of these would increase retirement benefits. These changes included an increase in the minimum benefit, survivor benefits and a raise to some of America's older retirees.Modifications to the retirement benefits program were not a priority since Biden was elected. Instead, the Administration has been focused on infrastructure and coronavirus relief. There is currently no legislation in the pipeline that would increase seniors' benefits.This is the bad news for those who want to receive larger Social Security benefits. Retirees don’t have to wait for Biden to take action to receive more benefits in 2022. Seniors will almost certainly be receiving more money, and the increase in their benefits could be the largest in over a decade. Here are the reasons.This is why bigger Social Security checks will be coming next year.Even if there are no new laws addressing their benefits in 2022, retirees will likely receive higher checks. This is because the Social Security program was designed to provide periodic cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs). To ensure benefits keep up with inflation, COLAs have been built into the program.However, COLAs are not always possible. Some years, however, they only provide a small increase. For example, in 2021 seniors got a 1.3% increase, which was less than $20 per month for most retirees.However, things look very different in 2022. COLAs are based on the year-over-year changes in prices for Urban Wage Earners (CPI-W). To estimate the price increase, the CPI-W results of the third quarter are compared with the results from the previous year.CPI-W data has shown that prices have increased significantly compared to 2020's costs so far this year. It is not surprising that the U.S. has experienced a period with heightened inflation since the pandemic ends and the demand for goods rises rapidly, helped by stimulus checks.Early evidence suggests that seniors may be eligible for more than a 4 percent COLA in 2022. This would be the largest increase since January 2009 when seniors received a 5.8% raise.This is not all bad news. Retirees will see living expenses rise because of the inflation that caused the higher COLA. There is evidence that retirementes experience a decline in buying power, even when they are receiving COLAs. CPI-W doesn't accurately measure rising prices in each demographic.The fact remains that seniors will receive more Social Security checks next year than they currently receive. These larger checks will be available to retirees, even if Washington is still stuck in its efforts to change Social Security benefits.