Senior Connections Senior Connections Nov. 2018 - Page 6

Social Security to increase in 2019 Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefi ts for more than 67 million Americans will increase 2.8 percent in 2019, the Social Security Administration announced in October. The 2.8 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefi ts payable to more than 62 million Social Security benefi ciaries in January 2019. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI benefi ciaries will begin on December 31, 2018. (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefi ts). The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some other adjustments that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $132,900 from $128,400. Social Security and SSI benefi ciaries are normally notifi ed by mail in early December about their new benefi t amount. This year, for the fi rst time, most people who receive Social Security payments will be able to view their COLA notice online through their my Social Security account. People may create or access their my Social Security account online at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. Information about Medicare changes for 2019, when announced, will be available at www.medicare.gov. For Social Security benefi ciaries receiving Medicare, Social Security will not be able to compute their new benefi t amount until after the Medicare premium amounts for 2019 are announced. Final 2019 benefi t amounts will be communicated to benefi ciaries in December through the mailed COLA notice and my Social Security’s Message Center. The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated. To read more, please visit www. socialsecurity.gov/cola. Celebrating Fall CHRISTIE SCHLUETER Now that the focus of gardens has moved indoors it is time to think about perking up your space. Now would also be a good time to try some unique or different houseplants for winter en- joyment. I personally recommend those that fl ower to keep your spirits up through the rest of the cold months ahead. Here are some colorful and beautiful fl owering plant ideas: cyclamen, African violet, wax begonia, cape primrose, impatiens, peace lily, kalanchoe, orchids, gloxinia, shrimp plant, gardenia, kalanchoe. Look for these at better garden centers. Flowering houseplants thrive where they will give you months of color. Once the blooms fade, you may not get them to bloom again. What you can try to do is to cut back on the water and fertilizer after the plant is done blooming. Set the plant in a cool, dry place for six weeks, do not repot the plant. After it has rested, bring it back out and begin watering and fertilizing. Be sure to grow where the temperatures are cooler. If your plants are getting enough light and the loca- tion they are in that will allow for growth, then by all means fertilize. But fertilize at a lower rate during the winter months. Choose the type of fertilizer based on the type of plant. Plants that grow for the leaves usu- ally need a higher amount of nitrogen and those that fl ower need more phosphorus. Read the label on the fertilizer to see which nutrients are available and how they are proportioned. A good all-around houseplant fertilizer is another option. Just remember to lower the dose to about 1/2 of what you normally do. Then in March start using full strength again. If the plants get leggy because of low light and high temperatures, fertilizing will increase the problem. By using these guidelines should be easier to determine if you need to fertilize or not during the winter months. In season this time of year are all kinds of squash. Squash has many proven health benefi ts some of which include boosting immunity, manages diabetes, has anti- infl ammatory capability, prevents infections, improves 6 Senior lung health and has antioxidants. Try some of these recipes to get more squash in your meal planning. Apple Butternut Squash Soup This might be my favorite combi- nation of veggies and fruit. I use my own homegrown honeycrisp apples and think they are a top choice of apple to use, but use any of your fa- vorite. Ingredients: Butternut Squash, 1, large, diced Apple, 1-2, large, diced Onion, 1, large, diced Garlic, 1 clove, fi nely chopped Pumpkin Pie Spice, 1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt, a pinch Pepitas, for garnish Extra Virgin Olive Oil (“EVOO”), 2 tablespoons + a drizzle Vegetable Broth, one container Half and half, just a drizzle Roasted Butternut Squash and Apples, 1/2 cup (op- tional for topping) Directions: Heat a large pot on the stove top at medium heat with EVOO. Once the EVOO is glistening, add the onion to the pot. Sauté until the onion is slightly translucent. Once the onion is cooked down, add the diced but- ternut squash, apple and garlic to the pot. Sauté until they are slightly soft and/or have a little color. Sprinkle in the pumpkin pie spice and sea salt. Squash Baked Pasta Squash and pasta go extremely well together and the combination is so creamy you would not believe that it is squash. Connections November 2018 Ingredients 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling 1 large onion, fi nely chopped 1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg 1 small squash, peeled, halved, seeded, cut into 1⁄2- inch cubes (about 6 cups) 8 oz of ziti –or other pasta 1 cup of fat-free half and half (or heavy cream if you please) Kosher salt 3/4 ounces Parmesan, fi nely grated (about 1 cups), plus more for serving 1⁄2 to 1 cup fresh sage leaves, torn (or 1-2 teaspoons dried) Freshly ground black pepper More FALL on Pg 8 Senior Connections HJ.COM