danaehrlich by Dana Ehrlich

For the first time in 35 years, it’s expected that Social Security beneficiaries will receive no cost of living adjustment (COLA) increase next year. Since the automatic COLA went into effect in 1975, beneficiaries have never failed to receive an increase, raising concerns that millions of beneficiaries will suffer a lowered standard of living since, according to The Kaiser Family Foundation, Medicare Part D (prescription plans) and Medicare Part C plans are expected to increase. In addition, about 60% of Medicare Part D plans are expected to have an annual deductible in 2010 while only 45% had an annual deductible last year.

To address these concerns, legislation has been introduced to provide an increase independent of the automatic benefit adjustment, including H.R. 3557, which seeks to provide a 2010 benefit increase based on the average COLA from the past 10 years. The projected increase in Social Security benefits would average $35 per month, or $420 annually. Congress is also considering creating a one-time payment of up to $250 for singles and $500 for couples.

At the time of the writing of this article, however, no such bills have passed, so it’s important to review these programs carefully.

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