The weather is getting cooler as 2017 is drawing near. We can all feel it. If you’re like many older Americans on a fixed income, you like to do a little planning ahead. If you’re wondering how large your Social Security check will be during 2018, your wait will be over soon.
This month you can go on the web and access your Social Security account to view how this year’s cost-of-living (COLA) adjustment will affect your monthly check in 2018. You can also pull up a future benefits estimate and double check if the amounts recorded are accurate.
A few weeks ago, the Administration announced excellent news for recipients. The 2018 COLA will be an increase of 2 percent. This represents the highest hike since 2012. In practical terms, this means an average of $25 more of monthly retirement benefits for each recipient.
Advocacy groups for those who are retirement age have noted that for approximately 70 percent of recipients, the 2018 COLA increase could be offset by the cost of their Medicare premiums. However, they also say that not all but some retirees have a “hold harmless” provision that will prevent this.
Many people think that checking Social Security benefits on the web just applies to those 65 and older. This is not the case. The Administration suggests that it’s a good idea for anyone to check their account on a regular basis. Even men and women who have not yet started to receive benefits can view their account and do some planning ahead of time. Each American’s online statement provides payment estimates based on the age he or she can begin drawing benefits.
It’s really important that you check your earning history each year to verify its accuracy so that when you are eligible to receive benefits, your monthly benefit amount will be as high as possible. This way, if there is an inaccuracy in your earning history, you can adjust it now by submitting supporting documents to verify your employer(s) and your wages, like your tax return and W-2 form.
It should also be noted that anyone who has established an online account will receive an email around the time of his/her birthday as a reminder to check their account. To assist the elderly, the Administration also mails a printed version of annual earnings estimate to anyone who is 60 years or older if they have not established an online account. This is to especially helpful for those who don’t have a computer or Internet access, or simply prefer to handle their financial transactions by mail.
To look at your statement, go to: SocialSecurity.gov/reviewyourstatement. You’ll be asked to verify your identity by entering your username and password. For the first time this year, as an added security precaution, you’ll also be required to enter a security code sent to you by email or text. You can also set up a new account if needed.
Social Security is just a piece of the retirement puzzle. Let us sit down with you and take a look at your current retirement savings plan to be sure you are properly prepared for the road ahead.