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The good news: Americans who receive monthly Social Security payments will be getting a 1.7 percent raise. That's about $20 more a month for the typical recipient. The bad news: It's the third year in a row that the raise is less than two percent.
The annual cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, affects payments to more than 70 million Social Security recipients, disabled veterans and federal retirees. That's more than a fifth of the country. The government announced the benefit increase Wednesday, when it released the latest measure of consumer prices. By law, the increase is based on inflation, which is well below historical averages so far this year. For example, gasoline prices have dropped over the past year while the cost of clothing is up by less than 1 percent, according to the September inflation report released Wednesday. The cost of meat, fish and eggs is up by nearly 10 percent, but the overall cost of food is up just 3.1 percent. Medical costs, which disproportionately affect older Americans, are up 1.9 percent over the past year.
-- Reuters and NBC News