2009 was the last year that Social Security recipients got an increase in benefits.
Not surprisingly, there has been a good deal of dissatisfaction in the years since that no additional benefit increase has been forthcoming.
So it must have seemed like good news recently when the Social Security Administration announced that it would be providing 55 million people in the program a 3.6 percent increase in benefits in 2012.
But that good news was rapidly tempered by the bad news that higher Medicare premiums may significantly cut into the increased Social Security benefits.
The Social Security increase will come to roughly $40 per month -- or a little less than $500 per year -- starting in January. But higher Medicare Part B premiums -- which are deducted from monthly Social Security payments -- are likely to eat up a portion of the Social Security increase. Some recipients may lose as much as a fourth of their higher Social Security benefit.
That's surely a disappointment to millions of Americans who are relying on Social Security.
But a far bigger "disappointment" awaits our entire nation if we do not begin to reform our runaway entitlement programs.
Medicare is expected to go broke just a few years from now, with Social Security following suit several years later.
Without serious reforms in the near future, that will force massive tax increases or huge benefit cuts -- or both -- onto the American people.
Sadly, not enough of our people -- nor of the members of Congress -- seem to be taking that matter very seriously, and so a painful day of reckoning draws ever closer.