No Social Security Increase this year, and Medicare Benefits May go Up for some Seniors

Reba Foskey says it clearly  “I just depend on my social security,” she told me.

It didn’t take long after going to a senior center in Thunderbolt to find several people with concerns about the recent announcement that there will be no COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) in social security benefits this year. Foskey and two other women quickly began telling me the significance of the benefits. “Well sure it’s important to everybody because that’s your income,” Foskey said.

Deborah Trawick joined  the discussion, saying she could use an increase, even a small one. “It’s scary, It’s not what I envisioned for my golden years,” she said.  Trawick says expenses keep going up, but apparently not benefits, at least not this year.

Ironically, the lower cost of gasoline contributed to a government pricing index that is reportedly lower this year, which meant there would be no COLA.

AARP disagrees that the pricing index should be used for seniors, saying it’s outdated in terms of social security.  And Melissa Sinden from AARP Georgia  says she’s already hearing from concerned seniors.  “Yes, we are hearing  concerns here in Georgia and we’ve also heard from some of our members,” she said.

“This is sort of unexpected and a little out of the blue for a lot of folks because it’s (only) the third time in 40 years there hasn’t been a cost of living adjustment for the social security program,” said Sinden.

And a one-two punch may be coming for some seniors.  Not only will there not be an increase in their social security benefits, but they may be facing higher Medicare costs. “While there’s only a certain percentage of medicare beneficiaries who will see an increase in their premiums, all will see an increase in their Part B deductibles,” said Sinden.  “It’s hard to say which one will have a greater impact, we’re concerned about both of these.”

AARP has written every member of Congress asking them to fix the Medicare and Social Security issues. And while a lot of seniors may wonder if anything will change, Foskey is hoping for the best.  “They need to take care of it and fix it so we can have enough to live on,” she said.

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