By Bill Oakey – January 8, 2018
Austinites who receive a monthly Social Security check may have heard the news reports that they will finally be getting a cost of living adjustment, starting this month. The 2018 cost of living increase will be 2%. This was very welcome news to hear, since the annual adjustment was a big fat zero in 2016.
Then it was a paltry .3% in 2017. In this chart, the Social Security Administration lists the annual cost of living (COLA) increases announced at the end of each year. They take effect beginning in January of the following year. So, it would appear that for 2018 we will be getting a 2% raise, starting “on or about January 24th,” according to the notice they sent out by mail.
But Instead Of a 2% Raise, We Will Be Getting the Royal Shaft!
The Social Security notice that came in the mail includes a nasty little surprise. They are hiking the Medicare deduction! So, using mine as an example, the Social Security cost of living increase is $27.00. But the Medicare deduction got jacked up by $25.00. That leaves me with a whole, great big $2.00 monthly increase. The best advice that I can give to everyone else out there is this: Don’t spend it all in one place! In fact, I’ve been told that I may be one of the lucky ones. Three people close to me got no net increase at all – zero, zip, nada!
Last October, the Chicago Tribune warned that the 2018 Medicare increases “would hit large numbers of low-income individuals who struggle to make ends meet.” The article cites a new study by the Senior Citizens League. The study revealed that seniors have lost one-third of their buying power since 2000, as Social Security cost-of-living adjustments have flattened and health care and housing costs have soared. Check out this blistering op-ed in the L.A. Times. The screws are tightening in several areas, with perhaps little hope from Congress.
You Should Contact Your Central Texas Congress Person
Take a stand and ask that Congress act now to provide a meaningful Social Security increase. Here are the names and phone numbers to call:
Rep. Lloyd Doggett: 512-916-5921
Rep. Roger Williams: 512-473-8910
Rep. Lamar Smith: 512-912-7508
Rep. Michael McCall: 512-473-2357
What Is Your Cost of Living Increase If You Are a Retired Teacher or a Retired State Employee?
The answer to that question does not require any math skills at all. You don’t need a calculator, and you don’t even have to count on your fingers. Those of us who worked all our adult lives as Texas teachers or State employees have not received any annual cost of living increase since 2001!