In Depth Alaska: COLA increase and what it means for Alaskans

Published: Oct. 13, 2022 at 5:10 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Social Security Administration announced an 8.7% increase in the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) to begin in January of 2023.

According to Cristina Martin Firvida, Vice President of Government Affairs with AARP, that means on average, Alaskans receiving social security benefits will get an additional $129 each month.

“The cost of living increase is exactly what it sounds like,” says Martin Firvida. “It’s a way of adjusting a monthly income amount so that it can keep pace with inflation. As we all know, inflation has been very high for the last year or so — or even longer — and social security is one of the few retirement income sources that most Americans will have that actually has a COLA. So this is a part of the program that’s vital to making sure that people can continue to make ends meet, even when there’s high inflation.”

AARP also says social security brings $1.7 billion to the Alaskan economy every year as people use that money to buy food and pay rent.

“And we know that grocery stores and rent and energy these are all things where, you know, high inflation is really showing up for the things that we have to really purchase every day,” says Martin Firvida. “We have to buy them and we’re going to have to pay whatever the price is. So yes, this is really important for the Alaska economy and definitely very important for each and every individual Alaska resident who is receiving a social security check.”

Watch the video above to see the full interview as part of our In Depth Alaska series.