STIMULUS CHECKS

Second stimulus check: what is the bonus for Social Security retirees?

Seniors on Medicare Part B could receive an added benefit if lawmakers agree on the HEALS Act proposal to lock in premium prices.

Second stimulus check: what is the bonus for Social Security retirees?
ANGELA WEISS AFP

Seniors could be in for an added bonus should the Republican’s $1 trillion economic stimulus, known as the HEALS Act, be passed by lawmakers in Washington.

Like the previous CARES Act that passed the Senate back in March, the HEALS Act includes a provision for a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks that will be sent to millions of eligible Americans currently struggling financially due to the coronavirus crisis.

But, as reported by the Motley Fool, that’s not the only financial assistance that Social Security retirees may have coming their way, as all those on Medicare Part B could receive an added benefit if lawmakers agree on the HEALS Act proposal to lock in premium prices.

HEALS Act: Bonus for Medicare Part B beneficiaries

Sixty million Americans, most of whom are senior citizens, currently avail of Medicare Part B. However the program is not free; seniors pay a premium for coverage as well as deductibles, with the standard premium in 2020 standing at $144.60. Most beneficiaries of the Medicare Part B program have these fees taken directly out of their Social Security checks.

Premiums have increased every year since 1966, with seniors set for another price hike in 2021. However the HEALS Act would put a halt to premiums or deductibles increasing next year, which could save seniors a few dollars each month in 2021 (prices jumped $9.10 per month from 2019 to 2020).

As the Motley Fool points out, senior Medicare B beneficiaries would have to pay the extra $3 monthly surcharge, but only as long as it was necessary for premiums to recover from the shortfall resulting from keeping premiums steady. But this $3 charge is expected to be less costly than the premium and deductibles increases that would have kicked in next year.

A woman walks into a Brooklyn Post Office on August 05, 2020 in New York City. The United States Postal Service (USPS).

When will the HEALS Act be passed?

The passing of the HEALS Act is far from a certainty as several Democratic lawmakers have objected to key parts of the bill. However, with bipartisan support for protections against rising Medicare premiums, this particular measure will likely be included in whatever bill is eventually passed by the Senate.

Republicans and Democrats returned to the negotiation table on Thursday, with both sides eager to push through legislation before the Senate goes into recess on 7 August.

While talks have been stilted with many issues still requiring consensus, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer were said to be aiming for a deal that could be passed by Congress next week.

"We're trying to get a deal that's good for the American public and American workers," Mnuchin told reporters after nearly two hours of talks on Wednesday.

"Our objective is to try to reach an understanding of the major issues by Friday. If we can't reach an agreement on the major issues, it's going to be hard to complete a deal."

Live coverage of the coronavirus crisis

You can follow live, US-focused coverage of the coronavirus crisis with our dedicated live blog.