While Social Security recipients won’t be learning officially about a cost of living adjustment (COLA) for 2012 until mid-October, early indications point to a slight increase with a BIG BUT --- that should spur comments via letters to the editor sections of newspapers and complaints to members of Congress and the White House, learns Grumpy Editor.
In short, it’s like a magic trick. Now you see it, now you don’t.
That should provide material for alert editorial page writers, especially those who have been focusing on inflation in recent weeks.
Social Security trustees (see box) project a 1.2 percent COLA. But the trustees also project the Medicare Part
Nearly all trustees linked to President Obama
The Social Security board of trustees is comprised of six members, four of them in high-ranking federal government positions: Timothy F. Geithner, Treasury secretary and managing trustee; Michael J. Astrue, Social Security commissioner; Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services secretary, Hilda L. Solis, Labor secretary, and two public trustees nominated by President Barack Obama.
Astrue was appointed by former President George W. Bush.
Unless further inflation (which most media and government officials continue to label “tame”) registers on government computers between now and September when the 2012 Social Security COLA is calculated, it will mean less in-pocket monthly Social Security payments for most of the 45 million recipients next year than in 2011.
For an update, see the Oct. 19, 2011 GrumpyEditor.com: Higher Medicare cost cuts into 2012 Social Security COLA.
Last COLA was in 2009.
As an example, a monthly Social Security payment this year of $1,000, less $96.40 for Medicare Part B premium, nets a recipient $903.60.
For 2012, figuring current projections, a $12 increase to $1,012 monthly payment, less Medicare Part B premium of $113.80, will give that person $898.20 --- or $5.40 less per month in pocket.
That’s how an increase (certainly to be emphasized) actually winds up as a decrease.
But wait. Monthly benefits could be even less.
President Barack Obama projects an under one percent COLA (0.9 percent, to be exact) in his spending proposal for the budget year starting Oct. 1.