So­cial Se­cu­rity hike may be best in years

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Stephen Oh­lemacher

Mil­lions of Amer­i­cans who rely on So­cial Se­cu­rity can ex­pect to re­ceive their big­gest pay­ment in­crease in years this Jan­uary, ac­cord­ing to pro­jec­tions re­leased Thurs­day by the trustees who over­see the pro­gram.

But older Amer­i­cans shouldn’t get too ex­cited.

The in­crease is pro­jected to be just 2.2 per­cent, or about $28 a month for the av­er­age re­cip­i­ent. This year they re­ceived an in­crease of 0.3 per­cent, after get­ting noth­ing last year.

Some good news for se­niors: The trustees project that Medi­care Part B pre­mi­ums will re­main un­changed next year. Most ben­e­fi­cia­ries pay $134 a month, though re­tirees with higher in­comes pay more.

Both So­cial Se­cu­rity’s cost-of-liv­ing ad­just­ment and the Medi­care Part B pre­mium are to be an­nounced in the fall.

The trustees re­leased the 2018 pro­jec­tions Thurs­day, along with their an­nual warn­ing about the long-term fi­nan­cial prob­lems the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s two bedrock re­tire­ment pro­grams.

More than 61 mil­lion re­tirees, dis­abled work­ers, spouses and sur­viv­ing chil­dren re­ceive So­cial Se­cu­rity ben­e­fits. The av­er­age monthly pay­ment is $1,253. Medi­care pro­vides health in­sur­ance to about 58 mil­lion peo­ple, most of whom are at least 65 years old.

Un­less Congress acts, the trust funds that sup­port So­cial Se­cu­rity are es­ti­mated to run dry in 2034. Medi­care’s trust fund is pro­jected to be de­pleted in 2029.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has promised not to cut So­cial Se­cu­rity or Medi­care, though his bud­get pro­posal for next year would re­duce So­cial Se­cu­rity’s dis­abil­ity ben­e­fits by nearly $70 bil­lion over the next decade. The sav­ings would come from peo­ple re­ceiv­ing the ben­e­fits re-en­ter­ing the work­force.

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