When COLA goes flat: Social Security checks not increasing for first time in 35 years


In the next few weeks, Social Security trustees should make official what retirees have seen coming for some time: Starting in 2010, the annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security will go on hold first the first time since 1975.

To put that in perspective: Anyone turning 65 next year would've been just 30 in '75, the year cost of living adjustments started. And while federal officials argue that a COLA is hardly needed next year, given the lack of inflation in our recession, others wonder if it overlooks a key fact: Health care expenses and doctor co-pays continue to far outpace inflationary pressures for seniors.

With all the debate and drama surrounding President Obama's health insurance overhaul, the COLA freeze could, at least in the short term, have a profound affect on seniors and their bottom line -- even though it has gotten far less press compared to the rancorous health care town hall meetings.

Originally published