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How gas prices are tied to the COLA

Each year, the COLA is calculated based on a subset of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) called the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). The CPI-W tracks the cost of many common expenses, such as food, housing and transportation.

The formula specifically looks at the average third-quarter (July, August and September) CPI-W figures. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its July CPI report on Aug. 10, showing the CPI-W increased 2.6% over the previous 12 months.

If gas prices spike at any time in August and September, it could increase the final COLA figure.

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Seniors already expecting decreased COLA

The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) estimates that the 2024 COLA will be far lower than the previous year.

The 2023 COLA was 8.7% thanks to high inflation. But with inflation now cooling, TSCL estimates a 3% COLA for 2024. This would increase Social Security beneficiaries’ average monthly benefit by $53.50, from $1,787 to $1,840.

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Sabina Wex is a writer and podcast producer in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Fast Company, CBC and more.

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