[caption id="attachment_755" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Courtesy: Flickr-elpadawan"]Courtesy: Flickr-elpadawan[/caption] As expected, the Social Security Administration announced a zero cost of living adjustment for Social Security beneficiaries in 2010. This is from the SSA’s news release 
“With consumer prices down over the past year, monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits for more than 57 million Americans will not automatically increase in 2010. This will be the first year without an automatic Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) since they went into effect in 1975. “Social Security is doing its job helping Americans maintain their standard of living,” Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security said. “Last year when consumer prices spiked, largely as a result of higher gas prices, beneficiaries received a 5.8 percent COLA, the largest increase since 1982. This year, in light of the human need, we need to support President Obama’s call for us to make another $250 recovery payment for 57 million Americans.”
 There are already several COLA relief bills pending in Congress and now with White House support  for a $250 payment, it seems clear that some relief is likely for seniors hit by sharp reductions in home values, shrinking investments and skyrocketing health care costs.  Meanwhile, we’re still waiting on another important announcement for seniors-- news from HHS about next year’s Medicare premiums.  The 2009 Trustees Report  projected a 9% increase in premiums next year; however, that increase would not be implemented for the vast majority of seniors thanks to “hold harmless” provisions in the law.  These protections prevent cuts in Social Security checks because of increasing Medicare premiums. But not everyone is protected.  In fact, higher income beneficiaries and newly enrolled seniors would actually see abnormally large premium increases.   We have urged Congress to protect all beneficiaries and last month, the House passed legislation by a 406-18 vote that would, on a fully paid-for basis, extend hold harmless protections to all beneficiaries.  Unfortunately, one Senator is holding up action in the Senate.  McKnight’s News reports:
 "The measure collapsed because of an objection raised by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) on Wednesday. He argued that enough seniors--roughly 73%--would be spared the cuts due to a "hold harmless" provision, and that the $2.8 billion cost of preventing the premium hike would take money away from other constituents."
We’ll continue to work with members of the Senate to ensure seniors aren’t penalized by this gap in protection. If you’re interested in more detailed information on how the COLA is calculated the SSA website  provides a number of resources.