If you or a loved one collects Social Security, you should be aware of six important changes to the program for 2018. Details on these six changes follow.
- A rise in benefits. Starting in January 2018, all Social Security recipients will receive a two percent cost-of-living adjustment (also known as COLA) in their monthly benefit payments. This represents the largest COLA increase since 2012. For the average recipient, this means they will receive $1,404 per month—up from $1,377 per month in 2017.
- New earnings limit. Beneficiaries who work while collecting Social Security, take notice: If you are younger than full retirement age (which is between age 66 and 67, depending on the year in which you were born) you can earn up to $17,040 in 2018 without being penalized. This figure is up from $16,920 in 2017. If you earn an amount above that level, you will lose $1 in benefits for every $2 earned. For those who will hit their full retirement age in 2018, the earnings limit is $45,360.
- Higher tax cap. Currently, workers contribute 6.2 percent of their earnings to Social Security, up to an income ceiling of $127,200. In 2018, that ceiling rises to $128,400. This change is expected to affect nearly 12 million of the 175 million workers who pay Social Security taxes.
- The full retirement age rises. For those workers who were born in 1956, the full retirement age – i.e., the age when recipients can receive full Social Security benefits – rises to age 66 and four months. Up to now, that number has been age 66 and two months for persons born in 1955. Also, please note that full retirement will increase two months every year until it reaches age 67 for all workers born in 1960 or later.
- Maximum benefits will increase. The maximum payout for those retiring at full retirement age has increased 3.7 percent to $2,788 per month, or $33,456 per year. That number is up from $2,687 per month, or $32,244 per year.
Paper statements are history—digital is the new norm. The Social Security Administration stopped mailing paper statements to most workers last year. These statements detail past yearly earnings and also provide retirement benefit estimates. This information is now accessible by establishing an online Social Security account. Nearly 36 million people already have signed up for an online account. To set one up for yourself or a loved one, visit www.ssa.gov/myaccount/.
Do you have questions about Social Security benefits, or other retirement or financial services issues? Please contact Lou Trivisonno at 440-449-6800 or email@example.com.