The Social Security cost of living adjustment for 2024 will be 3.2 percent, far below this year’s 8.7 percent bump. The smaller increase reflects the cooling of consumer prices, but inflation is an ever-present risk that should be a consideration in your retirement plan.
Although Social Security is adjusted annually for inflation, it will cover only part of your spending in retirement. Over a retirement several decades long, inflation can erode the buying power of your other assets, forcing a quicker spend-down and threatening your standard of living.
The risk you’ll face from inflation depends on your circumstances. Social Security replaces a higher share of pre-retirement income for middle- and lower-income retirees than it does for affluent people, and that means a greater share of their retirement income will be protected by COLAs. And benefits cover a much larger share of living expenses in low-cost parts of the country.
Your exposure to major expenses also can make a difference.
Older households spend more on health care than younger people do, and they spend slightly less on food and transportation.
Portfolio strategies are available that can help mitigate inflation risk. The timing of your Social Security claim also matters — and you may want to consider other income products, such as annuities and inflation-adjusted bonds.
My latest “Retiring” column for the New York Times examines strategies for protecting your retirement plan from inflation.