Congratulations! If you’re among the millions of Americans age 62 or over receiving Social Security retirement benefits, you’re getting a 2.8% raise in 2019. That’s one of several changes for Americans paying into or receiving Social Security in the coming year. Every October the Social Security Administration (SSA) announces its annual changes to the Social Security program. The following five changes will take effect January 1, 2019. For a full list of 2019 changes, download the SSA's annual fact sheet or visit SSA.gov.
1. Cost-of-living adjustment (COLA)
By law, federal benefits increase when the cost of living rises, as measured by the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). As a result, more than 67 million Americans will see a 2.8% increase in their Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits in 2019, representing an 0.8% increase over last year’s 2% COLA .1
2. Maximum benefit increases
In 2018, the maximum monthly Social Security benefit for a worker retiring at full retirement age was $2,788. In 2019, the maximum benefit will increase $73 per month to $2,861.1
3. Earnings and credit thresholds increase
The maximum Social Security taxable earnings threshold for workers increases in 2019 to $132,900.1 In addition, each Social Security credit will require more earnings. For 2019, one credit translates to $1,360 in earnings, an increase of $40 from 2018. (To qualify for Social Security benefits, you'll need to earn 40 Social Security "quarters of coverage," or “credits” up to a maximum of four per year.)2
4. Full retirement age will continue to increase.
The earliest you can start claiming Social Security retirement benefits is age 62. However, claiming before your full retirement age will result in the payout being permanently reduced. For those who turn 62 in 2019, full retirement age will increase to 66 and six months, from 66 and four months for those turning 62 in 2018. Full retirement age is set to increase by two months each year until it hits age 67 for anyone born in 1960 or later.3
5. Earnings limit increases
If you receive Social Security and you haven't reached full retirement age yet, you can now earn more money from a job without affecting your Social Security benefits. Prior to reaching your full retirement age, you will be able to earn up to $17,640 in 2019. After that, $1 will be deducted from your payment for every $2 that exceeds the limit. That’s a $600 increase over 2018's limit of $17,040. If you reach full retirement age in 2019, you will be able to earn $46,920, up $1,560 from 2018's $45,360 annual limit. For every $3 earned over the 2019 limit, your Social Security benefits will be reduced by $1, but it will only apply to money earned in the months prior to hitting full retirement age. Once you hit full retirement age, the earnings test no longer applies, so no benefits will be withheld if you continue working.3
If you have questions about Social Security claiming strategies or managing your income in retirement, give the office a call to schedule time to meet.
These are the views of Katie Williams, a freelance financial writer and news commentator, not the named Representative or the Broker/Dealer, and should not be construed as investment advice or a recommendation. Neither the named Representative nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If expert assistance is needed in these areas, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor prior to making any investment decisions.