ANSWER: Everyone receiving Social Security will receive a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) that will begin in January of 2017. Cost of living is measured by the Consumer Price Index and was adjusted up 0.3 percent for 2017. Where the issue lies is that most Social Security beneficiaries have their Medicare premiums deducted from their Social Security payments, which may be the case in your situation, and that premium has gone up. You’re not alone. About 70 percent of Medicare enrollees will experience a small premium increase, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. So instead of seeing your Social Security rise by 0.3 percent, most people will instead see that increase applied to higher Medicare premiums, which keeps your Social Security the same as 2016.

Many insurance premiums and deductibles are also currently going up, meaning more out-of-pocket medical costs, but your Social Security will at least always remain the same. You’ll never see a decrease in Social Security because Medicare premiums are prevented by law from increasing faster than Social Security payments for existing beneficiaries.

For more information or to meet with someone to discuss your options, contact your local Social Security Office at 600 Turner St. in Auburn, 1-866-627-6996.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: We are sending this invitation to people who provide formal or informal help to families in the Lake Region communities: Bridgton, Casco, Harrison, Naples, Raymond, Sebago and surrounding towns. We’re inviting you to join the first meeting of the Lake Region Collective Action Network on Jan. 17 at Bridgton Town Offices, lower level entrance on Iredale Street, from 9 to 10:30 a.m.

The purpose of the Lake Region Collective Action Network (LRCAN) is to bring together all of our expertise and to support a greater vision for a connected and resource-rich community. We know that there are many issues that families in our communities are facing that are best addressed together. Many of us already belong to coalitions around a specific topic area. The LRCAN will seek to serve as a central meeting place where we can learn from each other and improve our efficiency at tackling complex community problems. Please join us for this conversation and please share this invitation with others who you think might be interested. Snow date for the meeting will be Jan. 20, same time and location.

If you have any questions, please contact Jana Richards at [email protected], Anne Krieg at [email protected] or Deb Dunlap at [email protected] — Jana Richards, Public Health Coordinator, Opportunity Alliance.

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