Millions of Americans who rely on Social Security can expect to see their biggest pay increase in years in January, per projections released Thursday by the program's trustees, the AP reports. The increase is projected to be just 2.2%, or about $28 a month for the average recipient. For context, this year Social Security recipients saw an increase of 0.3%, after getting nothing in 2016. Some good news for seniors: The trustees project Medicare Part B premiums will stay unchanged next year. Most beneficiaries pay $134 a month, though retirees with higher incomes pay more. Both Social Security's cost-of-living adjustment and Medicare Part B premiums will be announced in the fall.
More than 61 million retirees, disabled workers, spouses, and surviving children receive Social Security benefits, with an average monthly payment of $1,253. Medicare provides health insurance to about 58 million people. Unless Congress acts, the trust funds that support Social Security are estimated to run dry in 2034, the same as last year's projection. Medicare's trust fund for inpatient care is projected to be depleted in 2029, a year later than last year's forecast. Over the past decade, Social Security and Medicare made up about 40% of federal spending, excluding interest on the debt; 50 years ago, the figure was 16%. The programs are expanding in part because the US is growing older: In 1960, there were 5.1 workers for each person getting Social Security benefits; today, there are about 2.8 workers for each beneficiary. (Read more Social Security stories.)