Retirement Benefits: What to Expect in 2011

How retirement benefits will change in the new year.

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[See The Million-Dollar Retirement Plan.]

Extra Medicare Part D help. Medicare Part D premiums could increase next year, even for existing beneficiaries. The average monthly prescription drug premium will grow 10 percent, to $40.72 in 2011, if beneficiaries remain in their current plan, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of Part D plans. However, heavy prescription drug users who reach the "donut hole" coverage gap will get some extra help next year. "People will automatically get some form of gap coverage in 2011, regardless of what plan they choose," says Juliette Cubanski, a policy analyst at the Kaiser Family Foundation. Due to provisions of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, seniors who spend more than $2,840 on prescription medications in 2011 will get a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs and a 7 percent break on generic drugs until catastrophic coverage kicks in.