The official Social Security cost of living adjustment for 2013 will be announced in mid-October, but the Congressional Budget Office has already made its guesstimate without the final figures from September and predicts 1.3 percent.
That's a puny -- but automatic -- raise for Social Security recipients as well as those who receive federal and military pensions.
This estimate came Sept. 18 because the U.S. is debating whether to approve a bill that would increase veterans' disability and survivors benefits by the same COLA that other military, federal retirees and Social Security recipients get. The House of Representatives already passed the bill in July. The CBO concluded that at 1.3 percent, the increased cost of giving disabled veterans and their surviving spouses a raise would be $686 million in fiscal year 2013. When you think about a debt in the trillions, that sum doesn't look as mind-boggling.
The COLA adjustment is effective Dec. 1, and will show up in recipients' checks in January.
What are you going to do with that money? For one thing, you are likely to spend it on Medicare's Part D Prescription Drug plan. Seven of the top 10 prescription drug plans have scheduled increases of 11 percent or more, according to an analysis by Avalere Health of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service Part D Landscape Files.
The Humana Walmart Preferred RX Plan is upping its charge the most. Its premium is going up 23 percent to $18.50 per month (which is still cheaper than most others). First Health Part D Premier, First Health Part D Value Plus and Cigna Medicare Rx Plan One each raised premiums by at least 15 percent. Overall, Part D premiums for current plans increased on average by 6 percent from 2012 to 2013, and the average monthly premium rose from about $38 to $40.
Medicare open enrollment starts Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7. This is the time when you can switch plans. Avalere suggests you check out United Health's new Medicare Rx Saver Plus PDP, which costs as little as $15 a month -- the lowest-cost plan available in many parts of the country.