Before we get too excited over projections for a (really) large 2023 Social Security COLA, let’s look at the facts as of April 2022. Remember, the SS COLA is based on the average increase in the CPI-W for the third quarter of one year over the previous year.
For example, the 2021 CPI-W for July 2021 267.789 – August. 268.387 and September 269.086 averaged 268.412 which is the base that will be used for the 2023 COLA.
According to the April 2022 BLS press release, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased 9.4 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 283.176 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index rose 1.5 percent prior to seasonal adjustment. Let’s use the 283.176 as if it were the average for the 3rd quarter of 2022. Here is the math.
283.176 – 268.412/ 268.422 x 100 = 5.5%. So, 268.412 X 105.5% = 283.176 (rounded to .18) The 2023 COLA would be 5.5% in that example.
The fact the CPI-W increased by 9.4% over the last 12 months means little for the next COLA. What matters is the average CPI-W for July, August and September 2022.
In the unlikely event you doubt me (LOL). Take a look at how the federal government is projecting the COLA for federal retirees.