Oct 13 • 35M

The 8.7% Social Security COLA: An inside look

Three experts join me to talk about the COLA, and what it means for seniors this year.

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Mark Miller
Journalist and author Mark Miller on getting retirement right - featuring downloadable guides and podcast interviews with nationally-recognized experts.
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The podcast is back this week with a look at the historic cost-of-living adjustment in Social Security benefits announced this morning.

The Social Security Administration announced that benefits will rise by 8.7% in 2023. That’s a big raise for more than 52 million retired Americans, and another 18 million who are survivors of covered workers or recipients of disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income. The maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax will increase to $160,200 from $147,000.

I published an in-depth story about the Social Security COLA in the New York Times this week that’s been drawing a lot of traffic, comments and questions. It answers a variety of questions about the COLA. The story explains why the 2023 COLA will be so high, and it discusses the accuracy of the COLA in tracking inflation for seniors. I even get into how the inflation hike might impact your taxes.

For the podcast, I invited a panel of experts on Social Security to join me to talk about the COLA. We took a dive into the history of the COLA and why it is so important to the well-being of seniors. We also got into the question of adequacy of benefits. With such a big headline COLA figure, it’s tempting to think that seniors are living on easy street. But keep in mind that the COLA does no more than keep seniors even with inflation. The reality is that about half of seniors struggle to meet their basic living expenses.

Joining me are three guests.

Nancy Altman - Social Security Works

Nancy Altman is president of Social Security Works, one of the most important advocacy groups working to protect and expand Social Security. Nancy also is an appointed member of the Social Security Advisory Board - a bipartisan, independent federal government agency that advises the President, Congress, and the Commissioner of Social Security on Social Security programs.

Ramsey Alwin - National Coalition on Aging

Ramsey Alwin is president and CEO of the National Coalition on Aging, one of the key organizations that advocates on behalf of seniors. Much of Ramsey’s work has focused on economic security and seniors, with a special focus on poverty.

Bill Arnone - National Academy of Social Insurance

Bill Arnone is the CEO of the National Academy of Social Insurance. NASI is a non-profit, non-partisan organization made up of the nation’s leading experts on social insurance. Bill’s professional background also includes expertise in taxes and employee benefits.

Listen to the podcast by clicking the player icon at the top of the newsletter, or check it out wherever you get your podcasts.

Also see this Times story on how the COLA will bring relief to millions of seniors.

Medicare open enrollment gets underway this weekend

Open enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th, and my Morningstar column this month examines the barrage of marketing seniors face each fall for Medicare Advantage plans. Some of that advertising has sparked a surge in consumer complaints about deceptive claims, and new rules from Medicare aimed at curbing deceptive advertising practices by third-party marketers of Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans.

An update on vaccination

I found this update on vaccination in the U.S. from the PBS NewsHour especially helpful.

The number of confirmed and reported COVID cases in the U.S. is at its lowest point since last spring. But the average number of deaths associated with COVID remains at more than 350 a day. Public health experts are increasingly concerned that too many Americans are missing out on a chance to get new boosters and avoid a worse winter.

The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that awareness of the updated boosters is relatively modest, with about half of adults saying they’ve heard “a lot” (17%) or “some” (33%) about the new shots. About a third of all adults (32%) say they’ve already gotten a new booster dose or intend to get one “as soon as possible.”

What I’m reading

Congress may boost catch-up contribution limits . . . A new frontier for hearing aids . . . In-depth guide to over-the-counter hearing aids . . . Older storm victims face an uncertain future . . . Work remotely from anywhere.