The Social Security Administration announced on Nov. 1 that monthly Social Security benefits will increase 3.6 percent in 2012. This cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is the first since 2009.
The COLA increase will benefit nearly 55 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2012. The increase will also affect 8 million Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries with an increase scheduled to begin at the end of this year. There are other changes to take effect in January as well.
Social Security is a critical income source for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) elders. In 2009, 27 percent of AAPI married couples and 48 percent of unmarried AAPI elders relied on Social Security for more than 90 percent of their income.
The COLA is particularly important to AAPI seniors because of higher life expectancy levels. Asian American life expectancy at age 65 is three years longer than that of all Americans. Asian American women have the highest life expectancy (85.8 years) of any other ethnic group in the United States. AAPI men can expect to live to 85 compared to 82 for all men. AAPI women in particular rely on Social Security, which keeps 17.2 percent of elder Asian women out of poverty. (end)