Open enrollment for Medicare recipients began on Oct. 15 and ends on Dec. 7. The social services department at the O’Neill Center has been busy scheduling appointments to help folks navigate through the process. Our seasoned staff is so in demand – because they do what they do so well – we actually don’t have any more openings for appointments.
The community knows that the O’Neill Center is the go-to place for knowledgeable and caring assistance wading through the questions and concerns of enrolling for Medicare or changing plans. This is a good problem to have. We want to be known as THE people to turn to. And we thank you for the vote of confidence. We also thank you for being understanding and respectful of our employees who devote so much time during this period.
One thing we like to use this column for from time to time is education and helping folks find information. Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits for approximately 70 million Americans will increase 5.9 percent in 2022, the Social Security Administration announced recently.
The 5.9 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 64 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2022. Increased payments to approximately 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 30, 2021. The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
We wonder, though, with the price of everything increasing drastically, is 5.9 percent enough of an increase for seniors? What will the COLA actually be and how will it impact those seniors in the lower income bracket? It’s hard to tell how things will continue to change, while still battling the effects of a global pandemic. But we would encourage seniors to do their research on this issue.
Social Security and SSI beneficiaries are normally notified by mail starting in early December about their new benefit amount. Most people who receive Social Security payments will be able to view their COLA notice online through their personal my Social Security account. People may create or access their My Social Security account online at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.
We would also suggest reaching out to our friends at Buckeye Hills/Area Agency on Aging to take advantage of their programs and services during open enrollment period. Their website is www.buckeyehills.org.
Erin O’Neill is Development Coordinator for The O’Neill Center, located at 333 Fourth St. in Marietta.