Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Don't be surprised if your Social Security check is smaller in 2016

When we’re growing up, we hear a lot of expressions, or figures of speech, and we don’t know exactly what they mean. For example, we hear the terms Senior Citizens. Or Golden Agers, and we wonder — or at least I did — what they mean. Perhaps they are more like euphemisms than they are figures of speech. But I always took them to mean that you reach a point where you have worked hard for oh-so-many years and now it’s time to relax and enjoy some of the things you may have missed. When I refer to all of those working years, I should point out that the number in my case is 65. And counting. I am not done yet. In that time span I am counting two years in the U.S. Army, which are counted as “good time” by those who oversee such things. “Good time” means getting an honorable discharge, as opposed to a dishonorable discharge or a discharge at the convenience of the government. I can assure you mine was honorable, meaning those 65 years — and counting — are a true measure of the kind of life I have attempted to live for all those years. I am only guessing that I am a Senior Citizen or a Golden Ager, since I don’t know if I am old enough to qualify for those titles of distinction. I do know, though, that when I was born Calvin Coolidge was president, so maybe I am either Senior or Golden. I should point out, in the interest of full disclosure, that Coolidge was only president for the first four months of my life. Herbert Hoover had already won an election shortly before my arrival on a quiet residential street (Waldamere Avenue) in Willoughby, Ohio. My first Christmas came soon after I made my first appearance in Willoughby, but please don’t ask me to recall how we celebrated the holiday that year. My sister remembers stuff like that, but I don’t. She remembers a lot more trivia than I do. But I digress. I am wondering, as 2015 draws to a close, if a lot of Senior/Golden citizens are in for a shock early in 2016. I refer to the arrival of their first Social Security checks, or bank deposits, in the New Year. Here is why I wonder. I keep records of things like that, and I know how much I got every month since I qualified for Social Security at the age of 70 and 1/2. The amount went up every year — until next year. Next year, it will go down. Here is why: They government did not allow any COLA, or cost of living, increase for next year. So you say, OK, you won’t get any more in 2016, but at least you won’t be getting any less. Wrong! Know why? It’s because the Medicare deductions will be going up, so if you receive the same amount of benefit as the year before and impact it with a greater medical deduction, then your bottom line — the amount of your check or your deposit — will be less. In my own case, my monthly deposit will be $24.40 less in 2016 than it was in 2015. I know this because I did some research on the subject — something I am wont to do when money is involved. I talked to a gentleman in the Painesville Social Security office and he didn’t even have to look up my records to tell me what the problem is. It is no COLA plus higher Medicare premiums. I have always found the Social Security Administration to be a model of efficiency, especially with regard to anything having to do with the government. So I am prepared to accept $24.40 a month less next year than this year. My question for you is this — if you receive a Social Security check, have you looked into your situation to find out how much less you will be getting next year? Do you care? I hope you do. But if you do not know what to expect next year, and you are blindsided by your new payment, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Some surprises in life can be nice. But not this kind.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My SS check only went down 3 dollars due to a increase in the deduction for my part D prescription plan. My medicare deduction stayed the same. Everyone's situation is different, depending on your income. Some pay the medicare increase, some don't. According to my SS statement for 2016 benefits, I was " held harmless " for the increase.

December 24, 2015 at 5:02 AM 
Anonymous Frank Stanton said...

You may have been given wrong information from Social Security.
Unless you are getting Medicare Part B effective 1/1/2016, or your income went up in 2014, your will continue to pay $104.90 in 2016.
You are considered to be grandfathered in.

December 24, 2015 at 2:05 PM 
Blogger Erica said...

My check went down $85 in 2016.

January 27, 2016 at 5:13 AM 

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