On September 24, 2018 I applied in person for my Social Security retirement benefit. The estimate I was given did not include the 2019 COLA, since it wasn't announced until October, 2018.
In January 2019 I received my first payment. The amount (taking account of Medicare deductions) was the same as the estimate I was given in September 2018. I knew that could not be correct since the September estimate did not include the 2019 COLA. My husband, a retired pension actuary, downloaded SSA’s own benefit calculator, “anypia.exe,” and calculated what my benefit would be both with and without the COLA. His calculations confirm the benefit without the COLA is the same as my September 2018 estimate and the same as the actual January 2019 benefit I received. The benefit calculated with the COLA is 2.8% higher than what I received.
During phone calls to SSA and a subsequent visit to an SSA office, no one was able to show me the components of my benefit or whether the COLA had been included. All they could tell me was “Everyone was supposed to get it.” I have filed a formal appeal, with printouts of my husband's calculations attached, showing in detail how the benefit should have been calculated. SSA says up to 60 days are required for a determination. In the meantime, can you suggest what else I can do?
Some of your readers are in the same situation as me. How are they going to know if their benefit is calculated correctly?
There's probably nothing else that you could formally do if you've already filed an appeal. I haven't heard of any problems regarding the application of the most recent cost of living increase, and it would be extremely unusual if that's what happened in your case. Hopefully, the outcome of your appeal will provide some clarification.
If you haven't already done so, you may want to consider using our software to determine exactly how much you should be receiving. The benefit calculator in the software uses the exact same formula that's used by Social Security. The software would also allow you to explore and compare your filing options so that you could make sure that you've chosen your best filing strategy.