AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - About 66 million people will be seeing a small increase in their social security checks next year including some right here in the panhandle. Social Security says there will be a point three percent cost of living adjustment coming to all retired workers and they say this could add an average of $5 to their checks every month.
The cost-of living adjustment is based on inflation throughout the year. Inflation was so low last year that social security didn't increase at all from 2015-2016.
However, the low cost of living adjustment this year comes at a time the Federal Reserve is working toward a two percent inflation goal for the U.S., meaning the cost of goods and services for seniors is rising faster than their incomes.
"I don't know that it will have a huge effect," says Lisa Hancock from the Area Agency on Aging. "Sometimes when the income increases like that it could mean that people who are getting benefits because of low income could possibly lose their benefits even with a $5 raise."
If you have been reading articles about the social security increase you may have also noticed a number which is quite staggering. There is a 22% proposed increase in Medicare Part B Premiums.
Medicare Part B is a requirement for all retired works because it helps to pay for prescriptions as well as doctors visits. There has been a rise in Medicare Part B Premiums for those who have just enrolled in the program. This year the cost will increase from $104 to $121 but should stay the same for those who were previously enrolled in the program. Unless Congress approves this increase, the cost of your Medicare Part B cannot increase that drastically.
"Going from $104.90 to $121.80 is like a 22% increase and they can't do that according to law," says Hancock. "Because your increase should match, your social security increase, cost of living, should match the Part B premium increase."
If you are a low income beneficiary you could be the most affected by the increases in social security and Medicare Part B Premiums. Raising your monthly payment even in the slightest could cause you to loose some of your medicare benefits because you could be making too much money per month.
If you have any questions on your benefits and how these increases could effect you monthly, it is encouraged that you visit a benefits councilor at the Area Agency on Aging to get your questions answered.