Social Security

Not Much Good News (Yet) Concerning the 2017 COLA for Social Security

The recent story in the news was such a non-event, you may have missed it. The Social Security Administration just released its projected cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, that will theoretically affect Social Security payments in 2017. Last year, due largely to a drop in gas and oil prices, those on Social Security received a zero COLA – no adjustment at all. This year, even though we’ve just entered the third quarter of 2016, Social Security officials are out with their projections based on current consumer prices. The big prediction: benefits will go up by 0.2 percent. For the average recipient, that’s a whopping $2.69 more per month, about the cost of a gallon of regular at the pump.

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The Future of Social Security – Social Security Board of Trustees Annual Report

The Social Security Board of Trustees released its annual report in June regarding the long-term financial status of the Social Security Trust Funds.  The combined asset reserves of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds are projected to become depleted in 2034, the same as projected last year, with 79 percent of benefits payable at that time.  The DI Trust Fund will become depleted in 2023, extended from last year’s estimate of 2016, with 89 percent of benefits still payable.

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Social Security Celebrates Black History Month

By Kirk Larson, Social Security Washington Public Affairs Specialist:

 

Throughout the month of February, we celebrate Black History Month. Created in 1926, this event coincides with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and Frederick Douglass on February 14. African American communities have celebrated these birthdays together since the late 19th century.

Honoring our shared history and reflecting on the past is one way we unify as a nation. We remember that we are all Americans — we believe in freedom and democracy for all. Another shared belief is that we all deserve a comfortable retirement, free of economic hardship.

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Will Your Social Security Income be Taxable? Odds Are They Will

It’s a question we hear from our clients frequently. As they approach retirement, some seniors have always assumed that their Social Security benefits will be tax-free – but will they be? The answer depends on several factors, but odds are – if you’re approaching the time when you begin drawing benefits – you will end up paying taxes on at least some of that income.

We recently found this report from Kiplinger. It was originally written a few years ago but just updated, and it explains in detail who will pay income tax on Social Security benefits, along with ways to minimize your tax exposure. Kiplinger states that “about 25 million Americans pay income taxes on their Social Security benefits — a surprise for many seniors who were planning on a source of tax-free income.” Depending on your income, the article reports, recipients could pay tax on up to 50% of your benefits, or for some up to 85%.

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To Increase Social Security Benefits, Consider “Restricted Application”

As you’ve probably heard, and as we reported in a recent article on this website, the rules governing some common Social Security strategies have recently changed.  (You can click here to access this article.) And if you’re about to start drawing Social Security benefits for you and your spouse, you may very likely be affected.

The biggest change, and the one we recently reported on, is the end of a practice known as “File and Suspend.” As summarized by local Social Security expert Andy Landis, this strategy allowed a beneficiary to file for benefits and then immediately suspend receiving them, which in turn produced three significant advantages:

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Getting it Right: Here Are the 9 Worst Social Security Mistakes

For most American retirees, Social Security benefits form a vital part of their income – in fact, for many these benefits provide most if not all of the funds retirees live on. That’s why older Americans need to make careful decisions about when to take their benefits – and which benefits to take – so that their income can be maximized.

We discovered this helpful related article on the Kiplinger financial news website (Click here for the link.) It’s titled “9 Worst Social Security Mistakes You Can Make,” and while the article is a few months old, the information is highly relevant today.

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It’s Official: No Cost of Living Raise for Social Security Recipients

After several years of modest increases, 65 million people will miss out on something this month: a cost of living adjustment, or COLA, applied to their Social Security benefits. And this will spell financial pressure for many.

This is the first time in five years that Social Security benefits, adjusted for inflation each October, remain unchanged. Last year benefits rose 1.7%, and for three years in a row they have climbed less than 2% per year. The news of zero COLA, announced October 15, 2015, has triggered a barrage of news reports and articles. For a good summary with some helpful links, we suggest an article found on the CNN Money website (click here to access the article).

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Medicare & Social Security “Double Whammy” Facing Retirees

What do you call it when your Social Security earnings remain stagnant – with no cost-of-living increase – but your premiums for some Medicare expenses rise more than 50 percent? A recent article on the NBC News website calls it a Double Whammy – and that, the article states, is what seniors are facing in the coming year.

This combination of zero-growth in Social Security benefits and an alarming rise in health care costs should give every senior a wake-up call. You can read the entire article here.

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80 Years Old, And More Popular Than Ever!

As you consider how to protect your financial assets in retirement, Social Security will almost certainly be an important part of your plan. The good news is, this essential federal program now enjoys as much popular support as it ever has.

Social Security is celebrating its 80th birthday, and a recent AARP survey reports the government program still enjoys overwhelming levels of popularity. This is true not just among seniors but among all age groups.

That’s the finding from AARP’s newly released report on the popularity of Social Security. AARP has been conducting similar research periodically since 1995. The report shows that more than 8 in 10 Americans say that contributing to Social Security is important to the good of all, not just retirees, and two-thirds of respondents call Social Security one of the most important federal programs. However, the same survey also revealed a wide range of misinformation and misconceptions about this far-reaching government program.

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The Future of Social Security – Social Security Board of Trustees Annual Report

By Kirk Larson

Social Security Western Washington Public Affairs Specialist

The Social Security Board of Trustees released its annual report on the long-term financial status of the Social Security Trust Funds.  The combined asset reserves of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds are projected to become depleted in 2034, one year later than projected last year, with 79 percent of benefits payable at that time.  The DI Trust Fund will become depleted in 2016, unchanged from last year’s estimate, with 81 percent of benefits still payable.