Contributed by: Nick Defenthaler, CFP®
If you’re like most, chances are you have not heard of what’s known as the “hold harmless” provision set forth under the Social Security Act. To keep things simple, this provision is essentially in place to protect the majority of those on Medicare from seeing jumps in Part B premiums when Social Security benefits do not increase through cost-of-living adjustments (COLA).
For the second year in a row, due to low inflation, the hold harmless provision is coming into play. This year, there was no COLA for those receiving Social Security and 2017 is projected to only see a minuscule 0.2% bump in benefits. If you’re single and have an adjusted gross income (AGI) below $85,000 or are married and have an AGI below $170,000, your Medicare Part B premiums will not increase – you are part of the group whom the hold harmless provision protects (approximately 70% of those on Medicare). For those with income higher than the thresholds mentioned above, however, (which is approximately 30% of those on Medicare), you will more than likely see yet another increase in your Medicare Part B premiums in 2017 that is currently projected to be approximately 22%.
It’s also important to note that those who are “sheltered” under the hold harmless provision (AGI below $85,000 for single filers, AGI below $170,000 for married filers) are only those who are currently receiving Social Security benefits. For example, if you’re 66 years old, receiving Social Security benefits and enrolled in Medicare, you will not see a jump in your Part B premium. If you’re currently age 64 but plan on delaying Social Security benefits until age 70, however, there is a very high probability that when you begin Medicare at age 65, your Part B premiums will be higher than they are for current enrollees.
As mentioned previously, the same situation occurred last year and the actual increases in Medicare Part B premiums ended up being much less than what was initially projected (here’s a link to when I covered the topic last year). In October, we will be hosting a webinar on Medicare and we’re hoping to have more clarity on any potential premium increases at that time. Keep your eyes open for more information surrounding this topic and our October webinar! As always, if you have questions before then, please contact us.
Nick Defenthaler, CFP® is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. Nick is a member of The Center’s financial planning department and also works closely with Center clients. In addition, Nick is a frequent contributor to the firm’s blogs.
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