By Joan Koczor
As with every new year, we can expect changes in 2018.
The increase in transportation costs, fires and flooding throughout the United States all have an impact on the cost of food and household goods. The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts the retail price of food — everything from eggs to beef – will increase by 1-2 percent.
Expect an increase in the most popular health insurance plans. The demand for natural gas is expected to exceed supply, resulting in an increase in cost. According to the National Park Services, entry fees for America’s most popular national parks will rise during peak visitation times.
The U.S. Postal Service announced price increases for letter delivery and priority mail. UPS announced an average of 4.9 percent for package, air freight and freight delivery. FedEx will raise rates for express, ground, freight and FedEx One Rate Pricing.
Movie theaters are considering increasing the ticket price of the more popular movies and lowering the price of less popular movies.
Changes in Social Security in 2018 have yet to be announced. Will benefits increase? How restrictive are the guidelines in the new or modified program? Will the changes affect your ability to get by each month? Sixty-six million Americans, including 46 million seniors, may be affected.
The Social Security Administration released its “adjustment reports” for 2018. Changes you can expect to Social Security in 2018 are:
A “sort of” raise. This year, seniors will receive a 2-percent increase in Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA hasn’t been this high in six years), which amounts to $27 per month on average.
The maximum Social Security benefit for those who will begin collecting benefits at full retirement age will increase to $2,788 in 2018.
Full retirement age will rise in 2018. Those born between 1943 and 1954 must wait until they reach 66 years of age to receive 100 percent of their monthly benefit. Full retirement age for those born in 1956 is 66 years and 4 months.
More security features will be added to the Social Security website. A two-factor
authentication will be required to access personal information. To log on, users must enter a one-time code and a username and password.
New Medicare cards will contain a combination of letters and numbers offering a better level of protection.
This is just a sampling of what to expect in 2018. Understandably, change is not always welcome. We become accustomed to our day-to-day and don’t appreciate something new. For some, change can add a level of anticipation to see what the day will bring.
Embrace each day – changes and all.
Joan Koczor is a senior advocate and a member of the Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee
This column appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.