For 81 years, it's been a financial safety net for retirees. But in just 18 years, Social Security could run out of money.
Current projections show in 2034, the Social Security trust funds could be broke. While the program is facing a long term funding shortfall, millions of current retirees who rely on Social Security benefits are struggling to stretch those dollars.
Next year the Social Security Administration's cost of living (COLA) increase will be just 0.3 percent. For the average senior that would increase their monthly benefits check by $4. Last year, however, there was no cost of living increase at all.
Why is the cost of living increase so small?
"The simple answer is inflation is very low," New York Times writer Neil Irwin explained to CNBC's "On the Money" in an interview. "Energy prices have been falling, food prices have fallen some," Irwin said. "Therefore there's a very low cost increase."
The COLA is based on the Consumer Price index, a basket of goods and services tracked by the federal government. Increases have ranged from more than 14 percent in 1980 to last year's zero change.