The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently announced that Social Security benefits will only rise by 1.7 percent in 2015, or an average of $20 per beneficiary. This low cost of living adjustment, or COLA, for 2015 marks the third year in a row that Social Security beneficiaries will receive an increase of less than two percent. By law, the increases are based on inflation, and this year has seen low inflation rates.
However, many older Americans face hefty price increases not measured by the government’s inflation index—health care costs. Older adults are more likely to spend more of their income on medical care. And, some retirement health insurance programs will be hit with increased costs; federal retirees will see their premiums rise by 3.8 percent next year, more than twice the percentage increase in COLA for Social Security.
There is one notable program that will not be facing substantial increases next year: Medicare Part D. Average Part D premiums are projected to increase by only $1 for a basic plan next year to up to $32. Eighty-five percent of seniors say that Part D has an affordable monthly premium, and nearly nine out of 10 seniors are satisfied with the program. Part D, a crucial part of our health care system, is vital to continuing to provide millions of older Americans with the affordable health care they need at a quality level they deserve. Though we may not like the low COLA increase for Social Security beneficiaries, we can be pleased that Part D premiums are one place that seniors aren’t having their wallets hit.
When new issues like this pop up that impact our health and wellness, make sure to check back in with the Seniors Speak Out blog. I encourage you to explore the rest of the site as well to learn about your options during open enrollment and please share any hurdles you face in accessing health care. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.