Benefit Bulletin: January 2019

Benefit Bulletin: January 2019

Arthur Cooper

How Participation in TSCL’s Senior Survey is Changing the Conversation on Protecting the Adequacy of Social Security

Polls and surveys are key means for the public, Members of Congress and the President, to gauge how people think on important issues.  Survey results can turn up the heat during an election year.

This month, TSCL launches our annual 2019 Senior Survey, and we urge you to participate.  This is our most important survey of the year, and your response counts.  In 2019, we plan two major surveys — the first focusing on healthcare costs and Medicare in January, and a second survey focusing on Social Security, in May.

Our annual Senior Surveys are distributed to tens of thousands of people like you, and are gaining a growing interest with the media.  Your answers about the adequacy of annual Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) and the amount you spend on healthcare costs, in particular, are beginning to change the national conversation on the COLA’s ability to provide retirement security.  TSCL received a record amount of attention in the press last year, and that’s due in large part to the thousands of you who participate in TSCL’s Senior Surveys every year.

In 2018, the information that survey participants provided about the amount that Social Security benefits increased after the deduction for Medicare Part B premiums hit home with journalists.  Some 25% of survey respondents said that, after deduction for Medicare Part B premiums, their net Social Security increase was $0.  Another 18% said their monthly Social Security increase was more than 10 cents, but no more than $5.  That’s a total of 43% who saw little or no growth at all for the third year in a row in their Social Security benefits.  This came after a COLA of just 0.03 percentage point in 2017, and zero COLA in 2016.

Our Senior Survey findings about the effect of rising Part B premiums on your COLA was the earliest such data gathered from the public on this topic.  We are using it to draw the attention of Members of Congress to this growing problem affecting older Americans.  It drives home the point that Medicare Part B premiums are now so high, and COLA growth has been so low in recent years, that the growth in net Social Security benefits has been frozen for millions of retirees over much of the past decade.  From 2010 until 2019, the COLA has averaged just 1.4%, less than half the 3% average from 1999 to 2008.  Meanwhile, over the corresponding period, Medicare Part B premiums are now 40% higher.

How about you? Won’t you please take time now to participate in TSCL’s 2019 Senior Survey? Take the survey here: [COMING SOON!]