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Social Security increase to be determined today

About 44-million Americans will learn today how much the government will boost their Social Security benefits next year to offset the effects of inflation.

Based on the moderate rate of inflation over the last year, many analysts are expecting an increase of about 3 percent, which would be the smallest cost-of-living adjustment since a 1.3 percent advance in 1987.

Benefits are adjusted each January, based on the increase in consumer inflation through the previous September. The Labor Department is scheduled to release the September Consumer Price Index today.

The average retired worker's benefit rose 3.7 percent in 1992, an average of $22 a month that boosted monthly checks to $629.

The CPI report today also will affect Supplemental Security Income, the welfare program that provides money for poor people who are aged, blind or disabled. SSI payments also rose 3.7 percent last year, from a maximum of $407 to $422 for individuals and from $610 to $633 for couples.

The Labor Department announcement also will increase the maximum earnings that are subject to Social Security taxes. In 1992, a 7.65 percent tax was levied on all earnings up to $55,500. The 7.65 percent rate will remain unchanged.