SOCIAL SECURITY Q&A: How much is the upcoming Social Security cost-of-living adjustment?Q. How much is the upcoming Social Security cost-of-living-adjustment? When is it effective?
By: Howard Kossover, Grand Forks Herald
Q. How much is the upcoming Social Security cost-of-living-adjustment? When is it effective?
A. Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits for more than 60 million Americans will increase 3.6 percent in 2012. The COLA will begin with benefits that almost 55 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2012. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin Dec. 30. Read the official announcement and related information at www.socialsecurity.gov/pressoffice/pr/2012cola-pr.html.
Q. If Medicare premiums increase, how will that affect my Social Security benefits?
A. For some people, the Social Security increase may be partially or completely offset by increases in Medicare premiums. When this was written, the Department of Health and Human Services had not yet announced 2012 Medicare premiums. If the Part B premium increases, the law contains a “hold harmless” provision that protects most beneficiaries from paying a higher Part B premium in order to avoid reducing their net Social Security benefit. Those not protected include higher income beneficiaries subject to an income-adjusted Part B premium, and people who will be newly entitled to Part B in 2012. When announced, Medicare changes for 2012 will be at www.Medicare.gov. DHHS, not Social Security, is the agency that administers Medicare.
Q. When should I complete my application to start retirement this January?
A. Now. Complete Social Security retirement and other applications online at www.socialsecurity.gov or make an appointment for an in-office or telephone interview by calling the national number, (800) 772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Appointments are sent to local offices based on zip code.