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Published: Jun 13, 2024 3 min read
Hands passing faded money with a social security check in the background.
Money; Getty Images

After a false rumor describing a $600 increase in Social Security benefits spread online recently, government workers were “slammed” with questions from beneficiaries trying to figure out what was happening.

The Social Security Administration, the federal agency that administers benefits, said it received an influx of 140,000 additional phone calls on June 3 — the day when the confusion peaked.

The misinformation stems from a “bogus news story about a $600 payment increase,” Martin O’Malley, Social Security commissioner, wrote in a tweet on Wednesday. The rumor incorrectly suggested that some people receiving Social Security benefits would get larger checks starting in June due to a cost-of-living adjustment tied to the inflation rate.

“This is FALSE,” O'Malley said. “No COLA until January 2025. Big thanks to all SSA staff who helped customers with this rumor.”

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The truth behind the Social Security rumor

Misleading and inaccurate articles mentioning a $600 Social Security increase have been circulating on social media for at least three weeks. In online forums, many beneficiaries have also reported seeing the rumor in internet searches. Some of the posts falsely stated that President Joe Biden had enacted the increase before the November presidential election to boost his chances of winning.

In reality, there won’t be an increase in Social Security benefits until next year, and we won’t know what that cost-of-living adjustment will be until the fall due to the way it's calculated.

The latest estimates indicate recipients could get a 2.57% raise next year, according to the Senior Citizens League, an advocacy group for older adults. For 2024, the COLA was 3.2%, which increased the average retiree benefit by $59 a month.

Fake news about Social Security isn't uncommon — because it's relied upon by about 68 million Americans including older adults and people with disabilities, misinformation can spread quickly.

But the Social Security Administration cautions people to “avoid falling victim to fraudulent calls and internet 'phishing' schemes by not revealing personal information, selecting malicious links, or opening malicious attachments." When the 2025 COLA is officially revealed in October, it'll be posted at SSA.gov.

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