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What Social Security beneficiaries need to know about 2019 program changes

By Barbara Neff

Six important changes are coming in 2019, which have already been announced by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Following the decade-long Great Depression, 1929 to 1939, the elderly in the U.S. were in particularly dire straits. The SSA estimated that by the early 1930s, more than half of Americans ages 60 and older were unable to care for themselves due to poverty. In 1932, President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt vowed to assist the elderly in their rise from poverty. The social security program as we know it was passed and adopted in late 1932.

The SSA bears responsibility for administering the benefits of the program, as well as overseeing changes and improvements.

Benefits will increase for the estimated 67 million Americans currently drawing from their Social Security accounts. The increase, known as COLA, or cost of living adjustment, will be 2.8 percent to help offset rising costs of living.

The amount of earnings upon which Social Security tax is calculated will rise in 2019 from $128,400.00 to $132,000.00, meaning that the amount at which taxing occurs will have a higher cap beginning in 2019.

Full retirement age, which means the age at which a person may draw full Social Security benefits, has been steadily inching upward. For example, people who turn 62 in 2018 reach full-retirement age at 66 years and four months. But, for those who turn 62 in 2019, the full-retirement age will increase to 66 years and six months. Full retirement age will rise by two months each year until it hits age 67.

Social Security beneficiaries are limited by how much money they can earn in a given year without being penalized and having to return some of the earnings to Social Security. In 2019, that earnings limit will increase a little for those who began drawing benefits prior to full retirement age from $17,040.00 to $17,640.00. In addition, those beneficiaries who have achieved full retirement age will be allowed in 2019 to earn $46,920.00 annually without penalty, up from $46,360.00 in 2018.

Social Security disability benefits will show modest increases in 2019. The final change announced by the SSA is that full account access will be available online in 2019.

The Social Security Administration is the best place to obtain further details about these changes, or for answers to questions about one’s personal account.

Visit or call the SSA at 800- 772-1213.



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