Millions of retirees (or those still working but of retirement age) may not see any increase in their Social Security checks next year. In fact, they may see a decrease. This has not happened for over 30 years.

The trustees who oversee Social Security are projecting that there won’t be a cost of living adjustment (COLA) for the next two years. That hasn’t happened since automatic increases were adopted in 1975. Social Security benefits cannot go down, but they only go up automatically if inflation goes up too. With the recent bad economy we have seen “negative inflation” so (based on government numbers) there probably won’t be any COLA increase next year and maybe not even the year after that.

The problem is that there is still inflation in many areas of the economy, most notably health care. If seniors Medicare Part B and Part D costs rise, and if those seniors have those deducted from their Social Security checks, they may see a net decrease in their check amount. This hasn’t happened before either. The negative backlash may be overwhelming. Members of Congress may look fondly on the quaintness of those opposing health care reform at their recent town meetings!