Even With COL Increase Social Security Less Than It Was Two Years Ago
by John Lawrence
In 2016 my social security monthly income was $631.00. Not a lot , but I took it at age 62 instead of waiting to 65 when I would have got more. Now I get a letter informing me that for 2018 I got a 2% cost of living increase and my monthly payment would be ... drum roll please ... $618. So even with a 2% COL increase my social security income will be $13.00 less. How could this be?
Very simple. Medicare premiums which are extracted from your social security payment before it comes to you have gone up faster than the cost of living! Medicare Part B premiums were $104.90 per month in 2017, which was the same as the 2016 and 2015 premiums. A little research came up with this gem: "The 30 percent of all Part B enrollees who are not subject to the “hold harmless” provision will pay the full premium of $134 per month in 2018. Part B enrollees who were held harmless in 2016 and 2017 will see an increase in the monthly Part B premium from the roughly $109, on average, they paid in 2017."
A little math shows that my social security payment for 2017 before the Medicare deduction was $735.90. 2% of this which represents my increase is $14.72. Therefore, my total social security for 2018 would be $750.62. Since my actual monthly payment will be $618., the difference is $132.62 which represents a 21% increase in my Medicare Part B premium which they withhold from my social security payment. Gee thanks, Republican controlled government. If you can't eliminate social security and Medicare altogether, I guess you'll have to be satisfied with whittling it down.
A little more research showed: "A medicare hold harmless provision is a legal statement prohibiting an increase to Medicare B premiums for the vast majority of American citizens. The Medicare hold harmless provision ensures that Medicare B premiums can not rise more than the previous year's cost of living increase in Social Security benefits." Well, I guess, I wasn't "held harmless." In fact a certain amount of harm was inflicted seeing that my social security monthly allotment is on the low side in the first place. Bernie Sanders wants to actually raise social security payments. Good man, but Republicans want to do away with them altogether. What you going to do??
More research showed: "The beneficiaries who are not protected from rising premiums by the hold harmless provision will likely see their part B premiums rise, since they (A) Did not have part B premiums deducted for their Social Security distributions, (B) paid a higher part B premium surcharge based on their higher income or (C) were newly enrolled in Medicare part B." I guess I was not held harmless because in 2017 I paid a higher premium for Part B because my income in 2015 was higher than normal due to the sale of two pieces of property which allowed me to pay off mortgages and have a modest retirement income from rental property. In 2016 my income went back down to its usual lowly amount.
I can't say "woe is me" because I'm better off than most senior citizens who have no income other than social security. At least I have some other income from rental property and being an Uber and Lyft driver. I guess from now on I will be "held harmless" though unless the not being held harmless provision will propagate itself throughout the years.