(Miami-Dade County, FL) -- In an effort to assist all seniors in Miami-Dade County, Commissioner Rebeca Sosa authored a resolution urging the U.S. Congress to pass legislation addressing the adverse effects of no Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for next year, coupled with likely increases in Medicare Part B premiums.
COLA is linked to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), which is based on the change in prices of a broad range of goods used by people in the workforce. Since consumer prices have been down for the past year, the Social Security Administration announced earlier this month that it would not automatically increase COLA for 2010. This would be the first year there has not been an increase since COLAs based on the rate of inflation first went into effect in 1975.
“This is worrisome for many seniors who depend on their Social Security as a major source of income, sometimes as the only source of income,” said Commissioner Sosa. “Of even greater concern is that while Social Security remains flat next year, there is a possibility of Medicare Part B premiums increasing. How can we expect seniors, many of whom are living on tight fixed incomes, to bear the brunt of this?”
Medicare’s website reports that some Medicare beneficiaries will continue to pay the same $96.40 Part B premium amount in 2010 – including those who currently have the Social Security Administration withhold their Part B premium and have incomes of $85,000 or less, or $170,000 or less for joint filers. However, all those who do not fall in this category will see their monthly premium jump at least 15 percent to $110.50 or more. Medicare Part B premiums cover physician and other outpatient care.
Commissioner Sosa is asking Congress to pass one or more of the following bills up for consideration that could assist seniors likely to be affected by this issue:
- H.R. 3631, the Medicare Premium Fairness Act, which would freeze all Medicare enrollees’ premiums, ensuring that 2010 Part B premiums remain at their current level and senior citizens will not see a decrease in their Social Security benefits.
- H.R. 3557, the Emergency COLA bill, would provide a Social Security COLA for 2010 equal to the average COLA over the past 10 years, which is approximately 3 percent.
- H.R. 3572, which would provide for a Social Security COLA for 2010 of 2.9 percent.
- H.R. 2429, the Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers Act of 2009, which would require the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to publish a new consumer price index specifically targeted at elderly consumers, that would reflect the actual expenses faced by seniors, including their higher spending on health care, and direct the Social Security Administration to use this index to determine annual Social Security COLAs. This would ensure that future Social Security COLAs more accurately reflect the increases in costs that senior citizens incur.
“My hope is that our Congressional delegates will pass of one or more of these bills to not only prevent senior citizens from seeing decreases in their monthly Social Security checks, but also prevent them from losing the compounding effect in future years of a COLA increase for 2010, which would extend throughout the remainder of their retirement,” said Commissioner Sosa.