Social Security Medicare Questions May 2014
The chances for legislation remain strong as more experts say older seniors need a benefit boost to protect them from outliving their retirement resources. Your continued support, letters, and phone calls to Members of Congress make all the difference in building co-sponsorship. TSCL has been instrumental in building support for the Notch Fairness legislation and remains committed to passage. .The calculation of the COLA is based on the percentage of difference in the average third quarter change in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Clerical Workers and Wage Earners (CPI-W) from one year to the next. In late August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina knocked out petroleum production, causing gasoline and other consumer prices to surge in September. The CPI-W shot up an astonishing 1.5 percent between August and September of that year. But since Katrina, the CPI-W has increased .042 percent on average from August to September. "Even if costs were to rise as much as they did after Katrina, the COLA for 2018 would still be about 2 percent," Johnson says. .A balanced budget amendment recently under consideration in Congress would have a disproportionate impact on Social Security and Medicare. These programs are responsible for about 40 percent federal spending in 201House Speaker Paul Ryan recently said he hopes to overhaul entitlement spending before he leaves Congress at the end of his term. … Continued
Seniors Need Better Benefit Boost
Medicare is currently prohibited from covering most hearing, vision, and dental services, even though millions of seniors are afflicted with age-related hearing loss, low vision, and poor oral health. When left untreated, these conditions often result in serious injuries and complications. What do you feel should be done about this? .At the time of writing this week's legislative update, the bill had not yet been approved on the House floor. However, its passage is expected by early next week. Despite bipartisan support in the House, its prospects in the Senate remain uncertain. Lawmakers in that chamber have not yet acted on their version of the bill (S. 141). .This week, one new cosponsor, Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (PA-8) signed on to the Public Servant Retirement Protection Act (H.R. 2797), bringing the cosponsor total up to eight. If signed into law, H.R. 2797 would repeal the windfall elimination provision (WEP) from the Social Security Act and establish a new formula for equalizing benefits for those with non-covered earnings. TSCL is very supportive of the Public Servant Retirement Protection Act since it would go a long way in granting dedicated public servants the retirement security they deserve. We were pleased to see one new cosponsor sign on this week, and we hope that support continues to grow in the coming months. … Continued
The Social Security website, www.SocialSecurity.gov, has a number of tools and retirement planning to get you start planning, including benefit estimators. You should set up a "my Social Security" account that will give you online access to your earnings record, because you will need that for an accurate estimate of your benefit. .We have been reporting recently that unless Congress passes new legislation soon there will be significant cuts in Medicare payments to health care providers, such as doctors and hospitals. If that happens it is quite possible those patients covered by Medicare would likely face negative consequences with regard to their health care. .According to the committee's report, AbbVie has raked in more than 0 billion in net revenue from those two drugs since 2013, which the committee said was "driven in large part by AbbVie executives' decision to repeatedly raise the prices of Humira and Imbruvica." The company's top executives pocketed 0 million in compensation during that span, "much of which was directly linked to revenue increases," the report said. .With it looking increasingly likely that Social Security beneficiaries will receive the highest COLA in seven years —about 3.3% in 2019 — proponents of "chaining" the COLA are likely to try to argue that the COLA under current law overpays recipients. Proponents of using the chained consumer price index to calculate the COLA claim that the chained consumer price index (CPI) is more "accurate" in calculating the COLA because it takes into account how people substitute other items when prices change. .The Part A deductible, however, is charged "per spell of illness" and it's feasible that you could have to pay it more than one time in a year should you require multiple hospitalizations the same year. .This week, action remained slow on Capitol Hill as the month-long August recess continued. .Here is an example from the SSA's Inspector General audit report: A beneficiary had been entitled to spousal benefits since February 200The beneficiary had not received retirement benefits (based on her own earnings) and earned delayed retirement credits between full retirement age and age 70. In January 2010, the beneficiary attained age 70, was eligible for a 5 monthly retirement benefit and was receiving a 9 monthly spousal benefit. Had SSA notified the beneficiary she was eligible for the higher retirement benefit, once she applied for those benefits, she could have received an additional ,345 from January 2010 through July 2013. .In addition, since 1992 there has been a significant change to the government's bottom line. For the government fiscal year ending September 30, 2000, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported a surplus of 6 billion- billion of which comes from non Social Security revenues. The CBO estimates the 10-year non-Social Security surplus to be about .1 trillion. .Over the years, there have been many bills, some with large numbers of co-sponsors, to fix the Notch. Most of the proposed legislative "fixes" provided improved monthly benefits. "Notch Reform" bills encountered strenuous opposition. Objections centered on the lifetime cost of providing those benefits. In 1992, one widely-supported piece of legislation was estimated to cost 0 billion (including interest lost to the Social Security Trust Fund) through the year 2020. In addition, it was argued that the cost would cause the Social Security Trust Fund to become insolvent even sooner than projected.