Americans receiving Social Security benefits in 2018 are expected to receive the program’s largest payment increase in years. The trustees of the program met last week and made the decision to increase benefits 2.2 percent or an average of $28 per month for recipients effective January 2018.
Social Security is the only income for many seniors
Recipients of Social Security mainly Americans over 65 years of age have been pushing for increase in benefits for the past five years. For several seniors, including residents in South Florida’s Caribbean community Social Security monthly benefits are their sole source of income. However, for the past several years the trustees of the program didn’t raise the rates as the national cost of index did not justify an increase. The COL index is the primary barometer the trustees use as a gauge with which to calculate increase in benefits.
Last year the Social Security Administration increased benefits by a mere 0.3% increase. The increase did not reach beneficiaries monthly checks as it was used to offset the increase in the cost of their monthly Medicare benefits.
The average monthly payment for the program’s 61 million beneficiaries is $1,253.
Problems could be ahead for SS
Despite the positive news for beneficiaries the trustees caution there could be pending problems with the Social Security program. These problems could see the funds from which benefits are paid be depleted.
The trustees said the longer Congress waits to address the problems, the harder it will be to sustain Social Security and Medicare without significant cuts in benefits, big tax increases or both.
Social Security is independently funded by payroll taxes, and not subject to annual spending bills approved by Congress. The American Association for Retired People (AARP) wants it to remain so.
“Social Security should remain separate from the federal budget. Medicare can improve if we reduce the overall cost of healthcare ….. and if we lower prescription costs, instead of giving tax breaks to drug and insurance companies,” said AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins.
Over the past decade, Social Security and Medicare made up about 40 percent of federal spending. That share is projected to grow in the future, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Copyright 2017 – Caribbean National Weekly News