Expect A Cost Of Living Increase In Your Social Security

Question: I collect Social Security and have Medicare A & B. Can you tell me how that is changing for 2018? Last year I didn’t see an increase in my Social Security, what about this year?

Answer: The Social Security Administration has just announced that this year there will be a Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) to your Social Security Benefits. Social Security Administration has announced an increase of 2 percent COLA.

That is good news, but that does not necessarily mean that you will see an increase to the Social Security deposit that goes into the bank each month beginning January 2018.

Part of the reason that we cannot be completely certain about the amount is that not all the information is available yet. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has not announced the Medicare rates for 2018 yet. That probably will not happen until closer to December.

Your Social Security Benefit will definitely increase by 2 percent, but for most of you, the increase to your Social Security payment will be used to cover the past increase to the Medicare Part B premium. If you have been receiving Medicare and Social Security for a number of years, the “Hold Harmless” clause has prevented your Social Security from going down. Now that your Social Security monthly payment has increased, you will begin paying that higher Medicare Part B Premium ($134).

I want to talk more about the “Hold Harmless” protection clause. Those individuals who are already enrolled in Medicare Part B and collect Social Security, will never see their net monthly benefit (payment) amount reduced. The laws regarding these benefits include a “Hold Harmless” protection clause. This protection clause dictates that Social Security net benefits cannot go down due to an increase in Medicare Part B premiums.

The newly announced COLA increase to your Social Security means that for those individuals who are currently paying less than $134 for their Medicare Part B premium that COLA adjustment will increase their Medicare Part B premium to that $134.

This means that for some of you, your Social Security Payment (net Benefit) may stay the same in 2018.

If you are an individual who is new to Social Security and Medicare (beginning in 2017), you may see an increase in your monthly deposit beginning in January.

If you are collecting Social Security, and are not on Medicare, you also will see an increase to your Social Security Benefit beginning January 2018.

So in answer to your question, you may or may not see an increase in your Social Security deposit in January of 2018, depending on your situation.

Once the Medicare Rates are announced for 2018, later this year, we can have a further discussion about how it will impact you.

Also, remember that each year during December, the Social Security Administration sends you a letter. That letter tells you what your new Social Security Benefit will be and what you pay for your Medicare Part B. So watch for that letter among all the other stuff that comes this time of year. It will help to explain how this COLA increase and Medicare rates will impact you!

To contact Janell Sluga, GCMC with questions or concerns, please call 720-9797 or e-mail her at janells@lutheran-jamestown.org.