LETTER FROM AFGE PRESIDENT!
Hello AFGE Retiree Brothers and Sisters –
Let’s start with a thank you to all of you who took the time to make a phone call or send a message to Congress about the federal budget. The Fiscal Year 2018 budget was adopted last week without making any cuts to current or future federal retirees’ benefits. The president’s budget proposed eliminating the COLA permanently for current retirees, and initially approved a budget that turned Medicare into an underfunded voucher program (and Medicaid into a block grant).
While this is good news, the passage of the budget clears the way for a tax reform package that calls for the funding to come from $500 billion in Medicare cuts and over $1 trillion in cuts to Medicaid.
Even more, the budget cuts operating budgets for many agencies, including a cut of $465 million from the Social Security Administration’s operating budget. Right now, appointments for new Social Security claims can take up to 60 days, and benefits appeals can take over two years.
It is estimated that for every $100 million in budget cuts, another 826,000 new retirement or survivors’ claims will not be processed on time.
More Good News on Your COLA
The Social Security Administration announced that the cost of living adjustment (COLA) will be 2.0 percent, higher than in previous years. At the same, the federal retiree COLA for 2018 will be 2.0 percent.
Neither of these COLAs has kept pace with inflation, particularly factoring in the expenses of most retirees, but is an improvement of last year’s COLAs of 0.3 percent for Social Security and 0.3 percent for FERS and CSRS.