November 3, 2011

Social Security Announces 3.6 Percent Benefit Increase for 2012

Cost-of-Living Adjustment is First Since 2009

Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for more than 60 million Americans will increase 3.6 percent in 2012, the Social Security Administration has announced. The 3.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits that nearly 55 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2012. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 30, 2011.

Some other changes 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 $110,100 from $106,800. Of the estimated 161 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2012, about 10 million will pay higher taxes as a result of the increase in the taxable maximum.

Information about Medicare changes for 2012, when announced, will be available at For some beneficiaries, their Social Security increase may be partially or completely offset by increases in Medicare premiums.

The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated. To read more, please visit

Other important 2012 Social Security information is as follows:
2011 2012
Tax Rate:
Employee 7.65% * 7.65%
Self-Employee 15.30% 15.30%
Maximum Social Security Benefit: Worker Retiring at Full Retirement Age: $2,366/mo. $2,513/mo.

SSI Federal Payment Standard:
Individual $674/mo. $698/mo.
Couple $1,011/mo. $1,048/mo.

SSI Resources Limits:
Individual $2,000 $2,000
Couple $3,000 $3,000

SSI Student Exclusion:
Monthly limit $1,640 $1,700
Annual limit $6,600 $6,840
Est. Avg. Monthly Social Security Benefits Payable in Jan. 2012:

Before After
3.6% COLA 3.6% COLA
All Retired Workers $1,186 $1,229
Aged Couple, Both Receiving Benefits $1,925 $1,994
Widowed Mother and Two Children $2,455 $2,543
Aged Widow(er) Alone $1,143 $1,184
Disabled Worker, Spouse and
One or More Children $1,826 $1,892
All Disabled Workers $ 1,072 $1,111