October 30, 2018

YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY | Rock Island, Illinois Office

By Cristina Vital
Social Security Manager
Rock Island Social Security Office

Social Security Announces 2.8 Percent Benefit Increase for 2019

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for more than 67 million Americans will increase 2.8 percent in 2019, the Social Security Administration announced today.

The 2.8 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 62 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2019. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2018. (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits). The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some other adjustments 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 $132,900 from $128,400.

Social Security and SSI beneficiaries are normally notified by mail in early December about their new benefit amount. This year, for the first time, most people who receive Social Security payments will be able to view their COLA notice online through their my Social Security account. People may create or access their my Social Security account online at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

Information about Medicare changes for 2019, when announced, will be available at www.medicare.gov. For Social Security beneficiaries receiving Medicare, Social Security will not be able to compute their new benefit amount until after the Medicare premium amounts for 2019 are announced. Final 2019 benefit amounts will be communicated to beneficiaries in December through the mailed COLA notice and my Social Security’s Message Center.

The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated. To read more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.

IN THIS SEASON OF GIVING, HELP A LOVED ONE WITH SOCIAL SECURITY

During the holiday season, we surround ourselves with family and friends, some of whom may rely on us for a number of reasons. An aging parent might need help clearing snow. A sibling may require help after a surgery. And as we get older, our family members may need help managing their finances. In fact, more than eight million people who get monthly Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits need help managing their money.

If you have a loved one who cannot manage their finances, you may be able to become a representative payee. We thoroughly investigate people who apply to be representative payees to protect the interests of Social Security beneficiaries, because a representative payee receives the beneficiary’s payments and is given the authority to use them on the beneficiary’s behalf.

Social Security appoints a representative payee to manage Social Security and SSI funds only. A payee has no legal authority to manage non-Social Security income or medical matters.

As a representative payee, you must know what the beneficiary’s needs are so you can decide the best use of benefits for their care and well-being. This is especially important if the beneficiary doesn’t live with you. Each year, Social Security may ask you to complete a form to account for the benefits you’ve received. You can either fill out the form and return it to Social Security or go online at www.socialsecurity.gov/payee to file the report.

Due to a recent change in the law, we no longer require the following payees to complete an annual Representative Payee Report:

  • Natural or adoptive parents of a minor child beneficiary who primarily reside in the same household as the child;
  • Legal guardians of a minor child beneficiary who primarily reside in the same household as the child;
  • Natural or adoptive parents of a disabled adult beneficiary who primarily reside in the same household with the beneficiary; and
  • Spouse of a beneficiary.

Taking care of family is something we do all year long, not just during this holiday season. Becoming a representative payee is a selfless act of kindness. You can read more about becoming a representative payee at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10076.pdf.

Question: I’m trying to decide when to retire. Can Social Security help?

Answer: The best place to start is with a visit to the online Social Security Statement. The Statement provides you with estimates of benefits for you and your family as well as your earnings record and information you should consider about retirement and retirement planning. It is easy to access your statement online by creating a My Social Security account. To create an account, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. The “right” time to retire is different for everyone and depends on your individual situation. To help you make your own decision, we offer an online fact sheet, When To Start Receiving Retirement Benefits, that highlights some of the factors to consider. This publication can be found at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10147.html.

Filed Under: Finance, Retirement