Social Security Benefits Increase and Warwick Mayor Signs Proclamation
by Don Drake, Connelly Law Offices, Ltd.
In July, we published a blog speculating on the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) that would be coming for some seventy million Americans in 2023 who received Social Security benefits. "Social Security plays a major role in the financial well-being of millions of retired and disabled Americans," said certified elder law Attorney RJ Connelly III. "These increases are extremely important for those retirees since a recent Gallup poll found that 89% of current Social Security beneficiaries rely on these benefits, to some extent, to cover their monthly expenses."
Yesterday morning (October 13, 2022) the Social Security Administration (SSA) released the figure of 8.7% as the COLA for 2023. According to the SSA's press release, "On average, Social Security benefits will increase by more than $140 per month starting in January.
Federal benefit rates increase when the cost-of-living rises, as measured by the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index (CPI-W). The CPI-W rises when inflation increases, leading to a higher cost of living. This change means prices for goods and services, on average, are higher. The cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) helps to offset these costs."
Another major benefit change announced earlier was a cut in the standard Medicare monthly premium from $170 in 2022 to approximately $165 in 2023. Even with this cut, however, Americans are still paying more for Medicare than in 2021 when it jumped from $149 a month to the current $170, which, according to AARP, was the largest premium increase in the history of the program.
The standard monthly premium increased from about $149 in 2021 to $170 this year. It will decrease to about $165 for 2023. Individuals earning more than $97,000 a year pay more based on their income. The increase in premiums in 2022 was the largest in dollars in the program’s history, according to AARP.
"The COLA increase appears to be some good news in this inflationary time, however, through the years, the COLAs did not keep up with the actual cost of living," said Attorney Connelly. "In fact, a recent report from the Senior Citizens League states that the buying power of Social Security benefits has diminished by some 40% since the year 2000, meaning that the annual COLAs just cannot keep pace with rising costs."
Warwick Mayor Signs Proclamation
Kathleen Heren, Rhode Island's Long Term Care Ombudsman, penned a guest blog in September announcing that October is Residents’ Rights month across the country. In her blog, she told us that this year's Residents’ Rights Month theme - Inspiring Unity within Our Community - emphasizes the importance of fostering meaningful community within the facility and encouraging residents’ connection to their local community. Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities will join with family members, ombudsmen, citizen advocates, and staff by honoring the individual rights of long-term care residents.
According to the National Consumer Voice, Residents’ Rights Month is celebrated each October and is designated by the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care (the “Consumer Voice”), each year to highlight residents living in all long-term care settings.
Yesterday, Ms. Heren joined Warwick, Rhode Island Mayor Frank J. Picozzi as he signed a proclamation officially marking October as Resident's Rights Month. "I'm hard-pressed to think of anyone who is as tenacious a protector of resident rights than Kathy Heren," said Attorney Connelly. "Rhode Island is fortunate to have her and so many others who ensure that those living in long term care settings are rightfully recognized as being an integral part of our community."