Sunday, May 03, 2009

Social Security beneficiaries will not get a COLA increase in 2010, most are protected from Part B premium increase

On Sunday, May 3, 2009, the New York Times is reporting in a story on p A20 by Robert Pear, “Social Security Will Not Raise Benefits in ’10, Forecasts Say,” link here.

The Congressional Budget Office is indicating that social security beneficiaries are unlikely to receive another “cost of living” benefit increase (COLA) before 2011, perhaps not 2013. This will be the first time in several years. In 2009, beneficiaries received about a 5% increase.

Social Security’s own page explaining COLA is here.

Most beneficiaries are protected by federal law from increases in their Medicare Part B premiums above the current $96.40 (usually deducted from social security). It's not immediately clear to me from web searches who is not covered by the federal law protecting them from such increases outside of COLA. They are not protected from increases in Part D (prescription drugs – previous post) or supplementary Part B offered by private insurance carriers (including many Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans). Part B supplements, by and large, cover most of what is not covered by Part B and are necessary as a practical matter for many retirees.

Social Security has a Medicare Part B Income-Related Premium – Life-Changing Event form here.

The AARP has a “Ms. Medicare” FAQ column, and on May 4, 2009 it has a column by Patricia Barry, “When Does the Part B Late Penalty Clock Start Ticking?”, link here.

Some of this matter reminds me of President Obama’s previous comments, before his inauguration, about “kicking the can down the road” with respect to entitlement funding and actuarial sustainability.

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