All seniors do not experience inflation the same way. For example, Social Security benefits cover about 90% of living costs in rural West Virginia; but only about 38% in San Francisco.

Housing costs are a major problem for seniors. Those who rent have much less control over their housing costs than do owners. To make matters worse, renters tend to rely more on Social Security because they tend to have lower incomes. On the other hand, while owners have more sway over housing expenses, increasing property taxes and utility costs are beyond their control.

Another issue is that retirees do not get the full benefits of a COLA (cost of living adjustment). This is because seniors are also enrolled in Medicare whose Part B (outpatient care) premiums are deducted from Social Security benefits. In the past 10 years there have been occasions when Part B premiums increased more than COLAs. Medicare Part D (prescription drugs) premiums are also deducted from Social Security benefits.

However, there is some good news. Legislation has been passed which empowers Medicare to start negotiating with drug makers in 2026 on prices for the 10 most expensive drugs covered under Part D. Supposedly in subsequent years the list will expand to 20 drugs covered by Part D.

I say “supposedly” because there are politicians who currently are attacking the entire retirement system. For example, two Republican senators, i.e. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Rich Scott of Florida, have proposed that Social Security be eliminated as a federal entitlement program, and instead should be approved annually by Congress. 

That would leave the possibility that future administrations would entirely eliminate the federal program. This possibility behooves retirees to stay abreast of all proposed changes to Social Security and act accordingly.

Al Popowits
River Forest

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