We thought you might find the following information useful as it explains noteworthy changes to Social Security that both retirees as well as those currently paying into Social Security can expect in 2017.
- Cost-Of-Living Adjustment – Based on an increase in the Consumer Price Index over the last two years, a Cost-Of-Living Adjustment (or COLA) will be implemented for Social Security income beneficiaries in 2017. This will result in a 0.3 percent increase in payouts, or approximately an extra $5 per month.1 A modest increase compared to a 14.3 percent payment increase back in 1980.2
- Earnings limit increase – Retirees who plan to work and collect Social Security at the same time may have some of their benefit withheld if they exceed the new earnings limit. In 2017, the earnings limit for those aged 65 and younger will increase to $16,920 from $15,720. Those taking Social Security benefits, who earn more than the new amount, will have $1 in benefits held back for every $2 in earned income over the $16,920 limit. However, the earnings limit will go away once you turn 66 and Social Security payments will no longer be withheld if you work and receive benefits at the same time. Also, payments will increase to credit you for any part of your benefit withheld in the past, according to US News & World Report.3
- Changes to double claiming – Often married couples age 66 or older have taken advantage of collecting spousal Social Security payments worth half of the higher wage earner’s benefit amount only to later opt to take payments based on the other spouse’s individual work history, which now would be higher due to delaying the claim. Yet in 2017, this will no longer be an option. Retirees who turned 62 on January 2, 2016 or later will no longer be able to double claim a spousal payment and an individual payment at separate times. Instead, they will now just receive the higher of the two benefit options.
- Bump in full retirement age – Like the COLA, it may seem like a modest increase, however, this change could affect the Social Security payments that you may plan to receive. Seniors reaching the eligible full retirement age of 66 years old will now have to wait 2 months (age 66 and 2 months) in order to receive full benefits.
How will this impact retirees? Those planning to claim Social Security as early as possible—such as age 62—will see a larger reduction from their overall benefits (slightly larger than the one they’d receive for claiming benefits early) with the extra 2 months tacked onto the full retirement age.
Give us a call at 414-431-0488 if these changes have you thinking about your retirement strategy, or if you just want more information.