The old shell game is alive and being worked on seniors. Social Security benefit letters went out this month showing a 2 percent raise, which was immediately taken back through a $25 raise in Medicare insurance premiums. Premiums for Medicare for 2017 were $109; for 2018, the premium will be $134 per month. Additionally, there are co-pays for drugs, doctors and testing for treatment, etc. Co-pays are money you pay out of your pocket and can range from $1 to thousands of dollars.

The 2 percent “cost of living” inflates the amount you receive so you are unable to offset some bills, such as rent and energy, or qualify for food stamps. Income causes denial when you apply for help. On paper you have a lot of money. But that doesn’t help when you run out of money before you run out of month.

Utilities are going to increase. Mobile water is going up 5 percent in 2018 and 5 percent again in 2019. Insurance has increased, home in 2017 and auto every six months upon renewal. Food prices have gone up. Gasoline prices are expensive, going up and down to around $2.09 a gallon for low octane.

The cost-of-living shell game has been getting serious from the time since Obama was in office and seems as though it is getting worse with Trump becoming the president. The Social Security fund has been raided on a regular basis. Think of the people that pay into the fund for years and do not survive to collect. Then there are foreign students that work part-time and have standard withholding out of paychecks that contain Social Security withholdings paid into the fund but never collected. Same with illegals.

What “slush fund” do you think is used when the politicians pay off sexual harassment claims or pay for a bridge to nowhere or even to fund a building never staffed or used? There is never a move to pay the money back. Instead, there’s a deal to pay back some of the money, if at all. This penalizes all the hardworking, honest folks.

These are my observations and firm beliefs.

Francis E. Hervert