SSA announces 0.3 Percent Benefit Increase for 2017

Nearly a third of Medicare users will see premiums increase by about 22 percent next year.

Our health IT initiative allows Social Security to access electronic medical records, including those from the U.S. Department of Defense, which reduces administrative costs, streamlines operations, and speeds up service to veterans. The cost-of-living adjustments, which are linked to the consumer price index, have been especially low in recent years because of low gas prices.

The current annual inflation rate is 1.5 percent. The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Millions of Social Security recipients and federal retirees will get a 0.3 percent increase in monthly benefits next year, the Social Security Administration said Tuesday.

Look out, high earners: almost a third of all Medicare beneficiaries, including those with higher incomes, are likely to face a steep increase in their premiums next year. Their premiums would jump. "But one portion of that, that is often overlooked, is in the year they will raise the amount that you receive for Social Security, there is typical raises in the costs of Medicare premiums", national Social Security adviser Jordan Anderson said. She says her insurance premiums went up by $46.50 this year, and her cable TV, Internet and phone bill went up, too.

"I couldn't depend on an increase in Social Security", he said.

"Congress must expand earned Social Security benefits and change the formula used to calculate future COLAs to the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly", Rich Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, said in a statement. This group includes not only high earners, but also those who receive Medicare, but have deferred or aren't eligible for Social Security benefits, and those who are new to Medicare in 2017.

This year, for instance, benefits did not grow at all, the third time since 2010 that there was no cost-of-living adjustment. Since 2009, the cost-of-living hike has been more than 2 percent only once, and has been zero three times.

"This loss of anticipated retirement income compounds every year, causing people to spend through retirement savings far more quickly than planned", said Mary Johnson of the Senior Citizens League.

For Social Security beneficiaries still working, the thresholds for the earnings test are increasing from $15,720 for those under full retirement age and $41,880 during the year retirement age is reached, to $16,920 and $44,880, respectively. This index is created to track retail prices as they affect workers, and includes the prices of expenses such as food, clothing, transportation, housing, and medical care. If prices drop or stay flat, benefits stay the same.

The 0.3 percent boost is the smallest increase in history for cost-of-living adjustments, which have been in place since 1975. The numbers for September are to be released Tuesday. Until last month, the modest levels of inflation largely came from muted oil prices and a stronger dollar.

"I just have to rely more each month on cashing in investments", Graves said. This is the first adjustment Social Security has offered within the last two years. "I'm lucky I can do that".

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