Wednesday, June 10, 2009

One in Seven Seniors Faces Social Security Check Cuts in 2010

/PRNewswire / -- Close to seven million seniors -- one in every seven -- will receive a smaller Social Security check next year, according to a new analysis by The Senior Citizens League (TSCL). Millions of other seniors who do not have their Medicare premiums automatically deducted from their checks will also have fewer Social Security dollars leftover next year.

These seniors will be affected because their Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) is forecast to be zero next year, while their Medicare Part B (doctors' visits, tests, and outpatient hospital care), Part C (Medicare Advantage) and/or Part D (prescription drugs) premiums are forecast to rise.

Affected seniors generally fall into one of two groups, if not both:

1. MEDICARE PART B: HOLD HARMLESS PROVISION: Approximately three million
seniors will endure cuts because they are not protected by a "hold
harmless" provision that prevents the vast majority of beneficiaries
from receiving smaller Social Security checks in years when Medicare
Part B premiums exceed the COLA. Two groups of seniors will not receive
hold harmless protection in 2010:
a. MEANS TESTING: 2,121,500 beneficiaries who pay higher premiums due
to Part B "means testing." Individuals with adjusted gross incomes
(AGI) above $85,000 and couples over $170,000 are affected.
b. NEW ENROLLEES: 848,000 new enrollees will pay the 2010 premium
rate, forecast by Medicare's Trustees to be $104.20 per month,
instead of the current rate of $96.40 per month that tens of
millions of seniors will continue to pay next year due to hold

2. MEDICARE PARTS C & D: More than 3.8 million other seniors will see
smaller Social Security checks next year due solely to likely increases
in Medicare Parts C and D, for which no hold harmless provision exists.
Note: Millions of other seniors will also be affected, as our estimate
includes just those who will have automatic reductions to their Social
Security checks. Additional millions of seniors who pay plans directly
will also have fewer Social Security dollars leftover next year.

"It's bad enough that seniors will have to endure rising costs next year without an increase in their Social Security checks -- but to actually cut checks for millions of seniors in this economy borders on cruelty," said Daniel O'Connell, TSCL chairman. "Our members are already unable to afford their prescriptions, rent, and air conditioning. We simply can't survive year-after-year of cuts."

A majority of those aged 65 and over who receive a Social Security check depend on it for at least 50 percent of their total income, and one in three beneficiaries rely on it for 90 percent or more of their total income.

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