The Republican War on Obamacare and Medicare
2016 Top Ten Time Goes By Blog Posts

That .3% Social Security COLA in 2017 Might be Zero for You

And it's not even the Republicans' fault.

This will be as short as I can make it today and still be clear because I can hardly speak, let alone type.

Social-security-card

If you are an American retiree, you know that sometime in December, you receive a mailing from the Social Security Administration (SSA) titled “Your Benefit Amount.”

This form shows your new full monthly SSA payment based on the cost-of-living (COLA) increase (when there is one) along with the new amount of the deduction for your Medicare Part B premium for next year.

(Some recipients may also have deductions for the Part D prescription drug premium and/or voluntary federal tax withholding.)

Because SSA does not date this annual mailing, I could not tell from previous years when it ought to arrive so on Monday, as I was working out a personal budget for 2017, I phoned Social Security to get my numbers for the new year.

Recall, please, that as announced a few weeks ago, Social Security recipients have been granted a miniscule .3 percent COLA for next year – the smallest in the history of Social Security.

It won't amount to much even for those who receive the maximum, full retirement SSA benefit: the increase on the average payment of $1360 per month will be about $5. Only twice that for the maximum payment of around $2,600.

While I was on hold waiting to speak to someone at the Social Security office in Washington, a recording announced that the Part B premium for most beneficiaries would increase by about $30. I nearly dropped the phone – for me that's close to a 28 percent increase. Huh?

(There are several different Part B premium amounts depending on a bunch variables.)

When I was connected to the SSA representative, I asked for an accounting of three items: my new full monthly payment, my Part B deduction and the amount of the check I will receive each month.

Perhaps you know that there is a “hold harmless” clause in the Social Security regulations. It means that whatever increases such as Part B premiums are imposed each new year, a monthly benefit payment cannot be less than it was in the previous year.

That is what has happened to me: I will not be charged the actual new Part B premium because that would reduce my 2017 payment to less than what I receive now and, in fact, even less than I received in 2009.

So in such circumstances, the Social Security Administration jiggers with the Part B premium so that I will receive the same amount as last year - and not a penny more - while, of course, all fixed expenses have increased.

Now for sure I am not going hungry, I will not do without – so I do not mean this to be a personal whine.

But one of the few things I have learned in life, on my own, with no help from anyone else – as I mention here now and then - is that if it is happening to me, it is happening to thousands, maybe millions of other people.

And a whole lot of them – I know some personally - have a lot less than I do and not having even a small SSA increase for next year while faced with the usual increases in utilities, food, insurance, prescription drugs and other expenses they watch closely will become a further hardship in 2017.

As I said at the top, this is even before the Congressional Republicans start taking a hatchet to Medicare and Social Security. More reason we must fight with all we've got against threatened repeal and privatization of those programs.

Comments

It's going to be a tough four years fighting for what is right and fair and that makes me SO angry that we'll have to fight on so many fronts. Thanks for keeping us informed.

Many thanks once more, Ronni, for keeping us informed. I'm a real news junky, but since * was elected (if in fact he was), I can hardly read or watch what's happening. I'm really pissed that at this point in our lives we have to stay vigilant against this kind of thing. Watching an interview with Paul Ryan the other day had me ready to punch the TV screen.

Whew. Rant for the day.

It is exhausting having to be watchful on so many fronts. Thank you for the info

Like most people my Medicare went up 6.00 and the cola covered that... So SS stayed the same. I'm pretty sure the politicians got their raises of several thousand dollars... Is there any kind of SS uprising we can join?

How can we protest? How can we make the media cover this? Can we collect people's actual budgets and send to a newspaper, national blog - something (!) so people can SEE what's happening. When I've paid my rent, utilities, and bought groceries I have about 250.00 left and that's for prescriptions (very limited), co-pays, dental, and transportation... I remember, fondly, when I used to save some money every month. AND I know I'm well off compared to many who live on less...

I come up a little short most years with the COLA increase (if there is one) usually being less than the increase in Medicare premium (and often, increased co-pays). (I'm on a Medicare Cost plan.) Discouraging and extremely worrisome as the cost of everything keeps increasing. What a remarkable thing it would be if we actually got increases that kept up with the cost of living increase each year. What really angers me however, is Paul Ryan's smug smirk when he talks about it. It's like he actually relishes the idea of robbing us of our earnings (NOT "entitlements").

I haven't posted since the election; words do not express sufficiently my horror at what has happened an what is going to happen, on so many levels. Now to have this information even before * takes office is hard to swallow.

My question is the same as Susan's: what is the most effective way for us to be heard? How can we increase the power of our collective voices? IS there any kind of SS uprising? I'm not so keen any longer on demonstrating in the streets, but surely there is a way to resist that doesn't require our physical presence somewhere. Or is there? I have read that signing petitions is the least effective, and that personal phone calls work much better. Maybe a hand written letter to representatives and senators in our own areas, as well as those who head up the committees that make decisions?

Maybe in this forum we can come up with some new ideas. Thank you so much Ronni, for your diligence and your commitment to sharing.

In hope (however dim),
Lola

Thank you again Ronnie for this info, sad as it might be. I often wonder why it should only be a Senior issue. Where's the hew and cry from baby boomers etc.? I query younger (40's)folks in my family and my take away is....they have all they can do now to keep. their heads above water, raising their families etc. Many are professionals with tenures...all seem to echo a "wait and see" position ...perhaps it's just the old it doesn't apply to me, I'll worry when I have to. Guess they also forget how quickly years and time passes.

President Elect Donald J. Trump plans on making Social Security better for us. He will NOT be cutting it rather improving it. I do believe we will receive more money under a Trump administration than any democrat. So hold on to your horse for the gloom and doom individuals out there. Please stop believe the lies that the main stream media has been telling you. President Elect Trump plans on keeping his promises to the American people which will be a rarity for politics. Pensions and Social Security benefits will not be taxable in the future. We will get increases in benefits.

While I never expected to get rich on Social Security and certainly did not expect to be able to live off of it, at least I expected that it would not be stolen from me.
Maybe it's time for the FBI (You know, the same people who spent all that time and money investigating Hillary for no good reason) to investigate, incriminate and incarcerate whoever has their hands in my pocket.

I never gave my older self a thought when I was in my busier years (30s, 40s)--exactly like young people today. I started to learn about it all in my 50s when handling my parents' illnesses and estates. Now, a few months away from starting Social Security myself, I am as upset as everyone here.

I was lucky (steady jobs, plus I had a 40lK and used it) but everyone is not so fortunate, especially with the middle class job base disintegrating daily. Plus, of course it was not unrealistic to assume that Social Security would continue, as it had for two generations prior to mine. Today's 40-year-olds are going to have a very unhappy future if they're struggling now and not paying attention because their own lives are so harried. I know from personal experience that "fixed income" doesn't have meaning for them--yet. When they get here, it will be too late.

I've only had Medicare less than a year and as we all know, it's under serious threat. I struggled with private insurance and its labyrinth of miseries for decades. What a sigh of relief when my Medicare card first came! Compared to private insurance, Medicare is paradise.

I can't believe I'm so close to losing what I just earned and what everyone older has been able to assume for decades. Wow! Whatever we can do about this, I am ready to sign on.

Jordan: I SO hope you're right and rest of us are wrong. I'd be very happy to dine on crow if SS recipients receive more, not less, next year--or even if the COLA actually kept up with our ever-increasing living costs. However, I honestly don't expect that to happen. Even IF * decided to keep his campaign promise not to touch SS and Medicare for retirees and soon-to-be-retirees, we still have to contend with a Congress that will be controlled by Ayn Rand-acolyte Paul Ryan and his fellow travelers. They never met a program they didn't want to privatize. Look how well it's working for the prison-industrial complex--mass incarceration can pay handsomely, especially if you overlook the human factor.

I couldn't agree more that SS is NOT just a "senior" issue. If there's no or minimal SS and Medicare is greatly reduced, those now in their 20s-40s will be called upon to step up financially to care for aging or disabled family members. They think they're barely keeping their heads above water now? How will they provide for their own retirement? Will they kick Mom and Dad to the curb? Will impoverished elders be left to die as they were before SS? Well, I suppose that would "solve the longevity problem" for all but the very rich!

But Ronnie, they need the $$ for tax cuts.

Oh. My. God. Jordan, where has your head been? I strongly advise you to wash it with an antiseptic soap.

Thank you, Elizabeth Rogers, for restoring sanity to this discussion. What an insight to * voters Jordan has given us! And how scary it is to hear his (or her) argument!

Keep in mind we have to pay for the past.
"$359,000 in new spending for “new former President Barack Obama,” including funds for his pension, beginning Jan, 20, 2017, as well as money for his staff, office and other related expenses, beginning on July 21, 2017."
Yes, that money is for 1/2 year.
I do understand that past Presidents should have a salary- but ALL of them got a good COLA this last year ($229,000 for four of the five living Presidents- Clinton's raise was not disclosed).
Couldn't we even get $10 each out of that for our COLA?
It is ALL out of control!

Just shaking my head and praying alot!
Do not share Jordan's optimism at at all.

Government , are the biggest Crooks. We choose and vote for them to represent us but what they will do? When their term is done, the walk away rich if not millioniers and WE,who choose them to represent us, We are going under the powerty line. The o,2 % increase for 2017, they could better showel that change did not do nothing for jus, contrary!

Oh, so that's why I did not receive the $1.30 that the .3% meant for me. But guess what! It didn't give me any sleepless nights. It's OK that we can't blame the reps, we have LOTS of other stuff to blame them for, and there will be even more in the next 3-4 years.
The French got the idea. They dumped Marine LePen, or what's her name, who is their version of tRump. They probably looked at our situation and decided that they would not have another Hitler character on the continent. Someone said he/she did no longer watch the news. But I will not let that hateful snake do his evil behind my back, so although he makes me angry, I watch everything he does. Anger is going to be a very important weapon in the fight against him.
Did you know he is already campaigning for re-election? For your tax money, no less. This is one time that I don't mind being so poor that I pay no income tax.

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