Social Security and Supplemental Security Income payments will jump 5.9 percent in January, the government said Wednesday, the biggest increase in nearly 40 years.

The average retiree will see his or her monthly benefit go up $92, from $1,565 to $1,657, according to the Social Security Administration. The average older couple, both receiving benefits, will see a hike of $154, from $2,599 to $2,753. And the average disabled worker will see an increase of $76, from $1,282 to $1,358.

The hike is the biggest since 1982, when benefits rose 7.4 percent, records show. The 2008 increase was close, at 5.8 percent. But for the past dozen years increases have been far lower, and three times nonexistent, as inflation has stayed down. Each year’s benefit increase is based on the change in the consumer price index in the third quarter of the prior two years. Inflation has been rising rapidly in many sectors this year.

AARP Chief Executive Officer Jo Ann Jenkins said in a statement that the upcoming benefit increase is “crucial for Social Security beneficiaries and their families as they try to keep up with rising costs.” 

— Peter C. Mastrosimone

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