SSA 2020 Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)

The 68 million Americans who rely on Social Security will receive a 1.6% bump in their benefits in 2020.

For an average retiree who gets a monthly check of $1,460, that adds up to an additional $23.40 a month.

To view a copy of the SSA COLA Fact Sheet, visit the SSA web site at

The same is true for veterans' benefits subject to COLA. Read more:

Social Security benefits will be effective beginning with the December 2019 benefits, which are payable in January 2020. This means the increase starts in January 2020. 

Federal SSI & SSDI payment levels will be effective for payments made for January 2020.

Retired military veterans, VA rates for compensation and pension for disabled veterans and surviving families will be effective December 1, 2019 and will be reflected on the first check to be paid on December 31, 2019. 

For those of you who have implemented Streamlined Verification of Fixed Income, remember that, if you conducted traditional verification in 2018 or 2019, you need only calculate the increase and include the COLA Fact Sheet in the Tenant File. No new award letter is required. Examples are shown below.

See HSG Notice 16-09 Streamlining Administrative Regulations for Multifamily Housing Programs.

If you are not familiar with new Streamlined Verification of Fixed Income, Streamlined Verification of Assets or new Certification Requirements for Fixed Income Families, join us for the RBD Online Training Workshop - Streamlining & The FAST Act in November.

If you have already completed January 2020 AR's or February 2020 AR's, there is no requirement to correct those certifications to incorporate this change.

HUD provides the following guidance in HH 4350.3 R1, C4, Paragraph 9-6:

When processing certifications with an effective date of January 1, February 1, March 1 and April 1, in order to complete the Recertification Steps outlined in Chapter 7, Figure 7-3, and provide the tenant with the required 30-day notice of any increase in rent, the owner must use one of the methods below for determining the tenant’s income.

  1. Use the benefit information reported in EIV that does not include the COLA as third-party verification as long as the tenant confirms that the income data in EIV is what he/she is receiving;
  2. Use the SSA benefit, award letter or Proof of Income Letter provided by the tenant that includes the COLA adjustment if the date of the letter is within 120 days from the date of receipt by the owner; 
  3. Determine the tenant’s income by applying the COLA increase percentage to the current verified benefit amount and document the tenant file with how the tenant’s income was determined; or    
  4. Request third party verification directly from SSA when the income in EIV does not agree with the income the tenant reports he/she is receiving.  (See Paragraph 9-15)

All recertifications effective after April 1 must reflect the SSA benefit that includes the COLA.

For examples, visit our web site at 

For those of you who have implemented the Streamlined Determination of Income (Verification of Fixed Income) as outlined in the Streamlining Final Rule and discussed in HSG Notice 16-09 Streamlining Administrative Regulations for Multifamily Housing Programs, 2020 may be the first year you implement this new verification method instead of requesting new Award Letters. 

Talk to your compliance department about changes to verification of fixed income