Editors' pick: Originally published Sept. 15.Buckle up for disturbing news: your Social Security check may well go down in 2017 - and that is despite a 0.2% projected increase in the Social Security benefit.
But this is inside the Beltway, Washington, D.C. reality, so know that many millions of Social Security recipients won't actually pay a scheduled Medicare increase and therefore won't see a decrease in their Social Security benefit. But other millions will.
Confused? And in which camp are you - those who pay or those who don't?
Start with this reality. The minuscule Social Security increase is due to an annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). In 2016, recipients got no increase at all - the third time in four decades. In 2017 a person getting $1,000 monthly from Social Security will get about a $2 increase. On the average monthly benefit of $1,304, count on about $2.60 more, maybe enough for a small coffee at Starbucks.
As for why some Social Security checks will go down, blame that on a sharp boost in Medicare Part B costs. In 2015, Medicare Part B - which covers doctors bills, along with charges by some other providers - amounted to $104.90 per month. In 2016 that climbed to $121.80. In 2017 it will hit $149.