Ask Larry

What Is My Next Best Step?

HI Larry,

I asked a related question earlier, repeated here.

When I applied for SSA benefits in September 2021 (for Jan 2022), the latest SSA statement at that time in September showed that I would receive $xxxx, if I waited until age 70. I reach 70 in January 2022. I just got a benefits verification letter (Dec 28, 2021) showing that I will receive $xxxx (the amount from the Sept 2021 statement) starting in Jan 2022, with no mention of the 5.9% COLA and no COLA notification letter. When I receive the first check in February 2022, will it be for $xxxx or for $xxxx + 5.9%?

You responded that the benefit rate for January 2022 would include the 5.9% COLA.

Thank you for that response.

The next day, I got the official “Award” letter from SSA, for benefits beginning January 1, 2022, stating an amount of the first payment as $xxxx, to be received on February 9, and which has not been adjusted for the 2021 COLA. I’ve called SSA twice (1st and 2nd week of Jan) and both times the representative confirmed that I would be getting the amount stated in the Award letter (without the COLA). However, both agreed that it doesn’t include the COLA and should.

I’ve run the SSA’s downloadable detailed calculator. It produces a benefit amount exactly equal to the Award letter amount times the COLA - $xxxx x 1.059.

What is my best next step? I need to appeal within 60 days of the Award letter. Should I do the on-line “Non-Medical Appeal”, should I file Form SSA-561-U2 with documentation, or what else? Should I look for legal representation? If so, do you have any suggestions as to legal representation?’

Would your software be of any help in this matter?

Thank you. Tom

Hi Tom. To answer your last question first, our software ( could calculate your correct benefit rate, inclusive of cost of living (COLA) increases.

I can't advise you, but I can tell you that I worked for Social Security for 36 years and I don't recall a single instance when a person's benefit rate wasn't automatically updated to include applicable COLAs. So, I'm baffled by what you're describing.

You can certainly file a request for appeal regarding your benefit rate, which would at least cause your case to be reviewed ( Don't expect a quick response, though. It could take up to a year or more to receive a determination on your reconsideration request. I wouldn't think that you'd need legal representation, but you'll need to decide that for yourself.

Best, Jerry

Jan 19 2022 - 7:54am
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