No Social Security cost-of-living increase; higher medical cists for many | The Washington Post | 10.15.2015
About 65 million retired and disabled workers, spouses and children collect Social Security benefits every month, the equivalent of about 1 in 4 households. Another 15 million are disabled veterans, federal retirees and their survivors, and those on Supplemental Security Income, the disability program for the poor.
The raises are tied to the consumer price index (CPI), which has been flat because of lower gasoline prices.
Most Americans have their outpatient care premiums for Medicare Part B deducted directly from their Social Security checks, and the annual cost-of-living increase usually covers any increase to premiums. When it doesn’t, a longstanding “hold harmless” law protects about 70 percent of seniors from having their Social Security payments reduced.
But that leaves about 30 percent of Americans on Medicare to cover a hike to premiums that otherwise would be spread across everyone. That group includes people:
- new to Medicare,
- federal retirees who don’t receive Social Security payments
- and about 3.1 million people with higher incomes, that is, those making more than $85,000.
Their premiums could rise by 52 percent, by about $54 a month to $159, according to calculations earlier this year by the Medicare Trustees, and more for those with higher incomes.
While medical costs are increasing, consumer prices for a range of goods from food to housing have not risen enough overall to produce an increase in benefits, and have dropped from a year ago, say economists, who have predicted for months that there would be no cost-of-living increase.