Brett Arends’s ROI: Social Security’s COLA is no bonus

by | Oct 13, 2022 | Stock Market

The Biden administration wants credit for the huge 2023 hike in Social Security benefits, announced Thursday, as well as the planned cut in Medicare Part B premiums. “For the first time in over a decade, seniors’ Medicare premiums will decrease even as their Social Security checks increase,” said press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in a statement on Wednesday. “This means that seniors will have a chance to get ahead of inflation, due to the rare combination of rising benefits and falling premiums. We will put more money in their pockets and provide them with a little extra breathing room.”

Er…what? Well, the 2023 Social Security benefit hike is nothing more than a cost-of-living adjustment to try to keep up with inflation, not get ahead of it. The real terms “increase” in benefits is precisely zero. Then there’s the problem that the COLA, like all Social Security COLAs, comes a year after prices went up in the stores. Social Security recipients will get an inflation adjustment in 2023 to reflect price rises in 2022. Oh, and there’s also the awkward point that Medicare B premiums are only being cut next year because this year they were hiked by too much. “The federal government collected too much for Part B premiums in 2022,” Mary Johnson, policy analyst at the Senior Citizens League lobby group, tells me. “The 2022 Part B premium increase of 14.5% was one of the highest in the history of Medicar …

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