The annual Social Security cost of living adjustment for 2024 could be 3%, based on the latest consumer price index data released today, according to estimates from the Senior Citizens League.

The CPI data showed inflation in June continued to slow, rising 0.2% in June. That was an increase of 3% from a year ago, the lowest level since March 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Mary Johnson, Social Security policy analyst for the non-partisan senior group, bases her estimate on data from the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), which was up only 2.3 percent year over year. She noted that due to the slight average inflation rate over the past 12 months, the COLA estimate rose from 2.7% last month to 3%.

The actual, final 2024 COLA will be announced in October. Last year, Social Security recipients received an 8.7 % raise, the biggest increase in more than 40 years.

Johnson said a 3 percent COLA would raise the average monthly recipients’ benefit of $1,787 by a little more than $53.60, but they will not know bottom line until the Medicare Part B premiums are announced, she said, noting that Part B premiums are automatically deducted from most Social Security benefit.

“In many years, the Part B premium increase can take most, or even all, the COLA leaving little else to cover other rising prices,” she said.

Johnson said the league is closely monitoring Medicare Trustees’ forecast of monthly Part B premiums, which in March showed Part B premiums to increase from $164.90 in 2023 to $174.80 in 2024. But she noted that this change did not include any significant new costs such as for the new Alzheimer’s drug lecanemab (Leqembi), expected to cost $26,000 per year without insurance.

She said based on spending estimates, most beneficiaries may see their Part B premium rise by almost $15 per month from 2023, which could be challenging for some. Other costs could drive Part B premiums even higher, she said.

“If inflation continues to slow and the COLA for 2024 is lower, the risk that the Part B premium increase may exceed the amount of the COLA increases, especially for those with the lowest Social Security benefits,” Johnson said.