WASHINGTON - Social Security retirement benefits for about 55 million people will go up by 3.6 percent next year, the first cost-of-living increase since 2009, the US Social Security Administration said on Wednesday.
The increase means the average Social Security benefit will rise by $516 a year to $14,748, according to a congressional analysis.
"This is welcome news for seniors facing high prices for everyday items like gas, food and medicine," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Democrat.
Some or all of the Social Security retirement benefit increase could be eaten up by a rise in premiums for the Medicare federal health insurance program for the elderly. Medicare premium adjustments are expected to be announced later this month.
The Social Security benefit increase is due to start in January 2012. An additional 8 million poor and disabled people receiving supplemental benefits will see a 3.6 percent increase starting this Dec. 30, the Social Security Administration said.