For those who rely on Social Security payments to make ends meet, things could get a little tougher fairly soon. While benefits cannot drop, the amount that people actually receive can go down.
By law, Social Security benefits cannot go down. Nevertheless, monthly payments would drop for millions of people in the Medicare prescription drug program because the premiums, which often are deducted from Social Security payments, are scheduled to go up slightly.So, here's how it works. Medicare premiums for the prescription drug program are often automatically deducted from Social Security payments before they are made to recipients. Since the premiums are going up, this means that more will be taken out of the Social Security payment, and that means less for the recipient. Benefits may not have actually decreased, but the costs that reduce the payments have.
Now is the time to prepare for this change. This move does not come at a convenient time -- with returns from investments reduced and retirement accounts drained. However, those who will be affected need to prepare. Here are some things that can be done:
- Look for other places to cut costs. It might be that you can reduce spending in some other areas of your budget, from transportation to entertainment.
- Consider other drugs or plans. Find out whether you can save a little more with generic drugs, or even by switching to another plan. In some cases Medicare may not actually provide you with the best price on a prescription drug plan.
- Look for other income streams. Look for small ways to make money. Selling some things and downsizing, re-assessing your asset allocation and looking for some other opportunities, such as part-time jobs or online money-making opportunities, might help you bring in a little more to cover the loss in your Social Security payments.