SSI Benefits To Increase In 2017

But SSA only suspends benefits after a person is convicted and incarcerated for at least 30 days, so someone could receive improper Medicare benefits for months or years while awaiting conviction, the report said. The last benefit increase, in 2015, was 1.7 percent.

Social Security recipients got no cost-of-living adjustment in 2016 because inflation was even lower.

That amounts to an increase of just 0.3% - the smallest ever put in place to help cover higher prices.

Some have argued that the inflation reading used to calculate the adjustment is flawed because retirees typically do not drive as much as younger people who commute to work.

The federal government announced the cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, Tuesday morning. This "hold harmless" provision means the dollar increase to Medicare Part B premiums can not exceed the dollar increase to most beneficiaries' Social Security checks.

A "hold harmless" provision of the Social Security Act limits the increase in an individual's monthly Medicare Part B premium to the increase in an individual's Social Security benefit, and applies to the roughly 70 percent of beneficiaries who have their Part B premiums deducted from their Social Security check.

Most Social Security recipients will see the full increase in their benefit go to higher charges for Medicare Part B coverage.

"The people who get treated badly are new retirees and high-income retirees, who don't get protected by the hold harmless provision", says Andrew Biggs, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Preliminary numbers suggest a COLA of less than 1 percent, according to analyses by experts and The Associated Press. These premiums are $104.90 a month this year for most people and $121.80 for another large group of Medicare beneficiaries. In the last few decades, veterans have seen their annual adjustment differ from the Social Security COLA only one time, and then only due to minor rounding differences. So retirees don't benefit as much from lower gas prices.

That's because it only measures the spending of families who make their income from wage earners or clerical workers but not elderly households whose main source of income are pensions and Social Security. And that could create a financial vice grip for seniors: It means the costs of goods and services for seniors, and especially health care, are now rising faster than their incomes.

With inflation remaining cool, cost-of-living increases have only eclipsed 1.7 percent once since 2009 - 3.6 percent in 2011. For the average retiree, that comes out to about $5 extra.

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