Social Security Benefits Decrease in 2011

Feb 4th, 2011 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Social Security & Medicare

For the second year in a row, senior citizens receiving Social Security benefits do not get the annual cost-of-living adjustment.  And rising Medicare premiums are projected to shrink Social Security benefits for 25 millions of us seniors.  This is not good news for us, and we need to think about mobilizing our resources to let members of congress know how we feel and what we think.

The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) is a nonpartisan senior organization and one of the largest in the nation.  It’s Chairman recently said, “If that isn’t bad enough, when rising cost-sharing and coverage changes are added, some of the oldest and sickest seniors may find they need as much as half of their Social Security benefits just to cover healthcare costs in 2011,” says TSCL Chairman, Larry Hyland.  “Seniors have to pay more, but they have less to do it with,” Hyland says. “And this could become our new norm in the near future,” he notes. 

Most notable of the changes for some seniors include new increases in Part D (prescription drug coverage) and Medicare Advantage (the private plans) plan premiums.  We will be paying more out of pocket, more drugs are not covered in Part D, and we will lose some extra benefits. 

TSCL is supportiong legislation that protects us senior citizens from economic ups and downs with a guaranteed average cost of living adjustment of 3%; the organization also opposes proposals that increase Medicare costs.  Some recent proposals by federally elected officials would monkey around with the cost of living adjustment and Medicare.  TSCL reports, “When there’s no COLA as was the case in 2010 and will be in 2011, seniors lose the compounding effect of the increase, which in most years averages about 3%.  Although relatively small, the COLA grows like interest over time.  The loss of two years of an average COLA and low inflation forecast for 2012 would have a similar effect, but in reverse – costing retirees with average benefits as much as $40,000 over a 25-year retirement.”

SCJ again urges readers to contact your senators and representatives with the message to support the cost of living adjustment for seniors, and stop any attempts to cripple Medicare.  TSCL is also conducting an online survey to learn more about how the lack of COLA and rising costs are affecting seniors.  To learn more and to participate in the survey, visit the TSCL website at or call 1-800-333-8725 for information.

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