clear
Saturday July 22nd, 2017 10:38PM

Social Security projects biggest payment increase in years

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Good news for seniors: Millions of Americans who rely on Social Security are projected to receive their biggest payment increase in years this January.

Bad news for seniors: It's just a 2.2 percent increase, or about $28 a month for the average recipient.

The trustees who oversee Social Security and Medicare released their 2018 projections Thursday, along with their annual warning about the long-term financial problems of the federal government's two bedrock retirement programs.

Social Security recipients have gone years with tiny increases in benefits because inflation has been low or non-existent. This year they received an increase of 0.3 percent, after getting nothing last year. The last time they got a bigger increase was in 2012, when the hike was 3.6 percent.

In recent years, many Social Security recipients have seen their cost-of-living adjustments erased by higher premiums for Medicare Part B. The trustees say that shouldn't be a problem next year. They project that Medicare Part B premiums will remain unchanged — $134 a month for most, though retirees with higher incomes pay more.

Both Social Security's cost-of-living adjustment and the Medicare Part B premium are to be announced in the fall.

More than 61 million retirees, disabled workers, spouses and surviving children receive Social Security benefits. The average monthly payment is $1,253. Medicare provides health insurance to about 58 million people, most of whom are at least 65 years old.

Unless Congress acts, the trust funds that support Social Security are estimated to run dry in 2034, the same year as last year's projection. Medicare's trust fund for inpatient care is projected to be depleted in 2029, a year later than last year's forecast.

If Congress allows either fund to be depleted, millions of Americans living on fixed incomes would face steep cuts in benefits.

Neither Social Security nor Medicare faces an immediate crisis — they both currently have surpluses. But the trustees warn that the longer Congress waits to address the programs' problems, the harder it will be to sustain Social Security and Medicare without steep cuts in benefits, big tax increases or both.

For example, in 2034, Social Security is projected to have a $546 billion shortfall, which would grow to more than $3 trillion in the first five years.

"Congress must act to ensure the long-term fiscal viability and sustainability and survival of Medicare and Social Security," said Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. "There are a great many ways that the situation can be addressed. The bottom line is that it must be addressed."

A big reason why Congress doesn't shore up Social Security and Medicare is that Democrats and Republicans don't agree on the urgency of the problem. Many Democrats and liberals focus on the fact that both programs are funded for years to come.

"Today's reports reveal the claim Medicare is bankrupt as simply a political excuse to cut seniors' benefits, and Social Security's near term outlook is stable," said Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee.

Republicans, meanwhile, note that both programs face steep shortfalls as soon as their trust funds run out of money.

"With an aging population, our nation's most critical retirement programs — Medicare and Social Security — are feeling an increased financial squeeze that puts their future viability at serious risk," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Finance Committee.

The programs' long-term financial problems are in part because the U.S. is growing older.

In 1960, there were 5.1 workers for each person getting Social Security benefits. Today, there are about 2.8 workers for each beneficiary.

In addition to Price, the trustees who oversee Social Security and Medicare are Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta and acting Social Security Commissioner Nancy Berryhill.

___

Follow Stephen Ohlemacher on Twitter at http://twitter.com/stephenatap

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Business, AP Business - Personal Finance
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Bastille Day: Paris security tightened before annual parade
Paris has tightened security before its annual Bastille Day parade, which this year is being opened by American troops with President Donald Trump as the guest of honor to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I
3:29AM ( 15 minutes ago )
Trump maintains 'nothing happened' when son met Russian
Although Trump says 'nothing happened' when son met Russian, senators investigating Russian election meddling want more from Trump Jr.
3:27AM ( 16 minutes ago )
House refuses to ban transgender surgery for troops
The Republican-led House has turned aside a measure that sought to strike an Obama-era practice of requiring the Pentagon to pay for gender transition surgeries and hormone therapy
3:25AM ( 19 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Judge hands Trump latest defeat on travel ban
The Hawaii attorney general fighting President Donald Trump's travel ban is lauding a ruling by a federal judge who expanded the list of relationships to U.S. citizens that are exempt from the ban
2:15AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Senate intel panel asks Trump Jr. for documents
The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee says the panel has requested documents from Donald Trump Jr.
1:56AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Nevada governor still concerned by health bill
Nevada Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval says the new Senate health care bill hasn't changed much
1:55AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Undocumented convict awaits trial in San Francisco slaying
It's been two years since a woman was randomly gunned down on a busy San Francisco pier in a shooting that set off a fierce national immigration debate.
3:21AM ( 22 minutes ago )
Gov. Brown makes dire plea to save California climate law
Gov. Jerry Brown is painting a bleak picture of a state ravaged by climate change and consumers facing higher costs for food and electricity as he implored state lawmakers Thursday to grant his request to extend the state's signature climate initiative
9:16PM ( 6 hours ago )
New Senate GOP health care bill teeters on the brink
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell releases new health care bill, but he's struggling for GOP votes to pass it
7:18PM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Asian shares mixed in narrow range investors await earnings
Asian stock markets mixed in narrow range as investors await corporate earnings
2:29AM ( 1 hour ago )
Report: Asia facing dire future toll from climate change
Report says Asia to face extreme heat, rising sea levels, growing losses from severe weather and increasing food insecurity in coming decades as climate change raises temperatures and alters weather patterns across the globe
12:10AM ( 3 hours ago )
Asian markets edge higher as investors await earnings
Asian stock markets trade in narrow range as investors await corporate earnings
11:54PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Business
Trustees project biggest Social Security increase in years
The trustees who oversee Social Security say the millions of people who rely on the program can expect to receive their biggest payment increase in years come January.
4:58PM ( 10 hours ago )
House conservatives wary of emerging Senate health care bill
Conservatives are watching as Senate GOP leaders prepare to unveil their latest health care bill
2:05PM ( 1 day ago )
GOP ready to try pushing new health bill through Senate
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he's ready to unwrap his latest bill repealing much of President Barack Obama's health care law
3:01AM ( 2 days ago )
AP Business - Personal Finance
Bastille Day: Paris security tightened before annual parade
Paris has tightened security before its annual Bastille Day parade, which this year is being opened by American troops with President Donald Trump as the guest of honor to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I
3:29AM ( 15 minutes ago )
Trump maintains 'nothing happened' when son met Russian
Although Trump says 'nothing happened' when son met Russian, senators investigating Russian election meddling want more from Trump Jr.
3:27AM ( 16 minutes ago )
House refuses to ban transgender surgery for troops
The Republican-led House has turned aside a measure that sought to strike an Obama-era practice of requiring the Pentagon to pay for gender transition surgeries and hormone therapy
3:25AM ( 19 minutes ago )
New Senate health care bill quickly runs into trouble
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell releases new health care bill, but he's struggling for GOP votes to pass it
3:23AM ( 21 minutes ago )
Gilt and guns: Macron wants to be Europe's go-to for Trump
French President Emmanuel Macron is positioning himself as the indispensable intermediary between Europe and Donald Trump during Trump's visit to Paris
3:22AM ( 21 minutes ago )