Keeping Track

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Americans on Social Security will see their checks grow by 2.4 percent in January, the biggest cost-of-living increase in three years.

The year 2000 increase, announced by the Social Security Administration last Tuesday, means the average monthly check for retirees will rise from $785 to $804.

The benefits boost will be nearly twice the size of this year's 1.3 percent raise, mainly because of a recent upward creep in consumer prices.

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The annual cost-of-living adjustment was linked to the consumer price index in 1975. Payments of monthly benefits began in 1940, when slightly more than 200 thousand people received a total of $4.1 million. Today 44.2 million people take home some $31.7 billion.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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