According to the last Annual Report to the President on Hispanic Employment, the federal government employs 156,651 Latinos, one of the sectors that will be most affected by the temporary shutdown. (Photo: Reuters)
For a second year in a row, millions of Americans who rely on Social Security, veterans' benefits and federal pensions will receive a significantly lower increase in their benefits.
Preliminary figures suggest next year's benefit increase will be around 1.5 percent, which would be among the smallest since automatic increases were adopted in 1975, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. The increase will be small because consumer prices, as measured by the government, haven't gone up much in the past year.
The exact size of the cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, won't be known until the Labor Department releases the inflation report for September. That was supposed to happen Wednesday, but the report was delayed indefinitely because of the partial government shutdown.
Nearly 58 million retirees, disabled workers, spouses and children get Social Security benefits. The average monthly payment is $1,162. A 1.5 percent raise would increase the typical monthly payment by about $17.
The COLA also affects benefits for more than 3 million disabled veterans, about 2.5 million federal retirees and their survivors, and more than 8 million people who get Supplemental Security Income, the disability program for the poor.
The cost-of-living adjustment is based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, or CPI-W, a broad measure of consumer prices generated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It measures price changes for food, housing, clothing, transportation, energy, medical care, recreation and education.