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Social Security roundup: A historic COLA, redesigned statements, and more

By Lauryn October 14, 2021

The fall is typically a busy time for the Social Security Administration (SSA). As a new fiscal year gets underway, Social Security must prepare for changes that typically occur at the end of the year such as a program-wide Cost-of-Living-Adjustment (COLA) or individual increases in benefit amounts due to a beneficiary’s earnings. These announcements are often released at the same time as other key updates, such as an adjustment to Medicare premium as issued by the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services. Over the past few weeks, there have been several important announcements from the Social Security Administration. We have highlighted just of them a few here.

A historic cost-of-living-adjustment for beneficiaries
SSA has announced a 5.9 percent Cost-of-Living Adjustment for all Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries. This adjustment will give over 64 million Americans an increase in their December 2021 payment, which is payable in January 2022. An additional 8 million SSI benefit recipients will see their benefits increase starting December 31, 2021. Anyone receiving benefits as a dependent on a Social Security beneficiary’s record will see an increase in their benefit payment as well.

The announcement of a 5.9 percent increase is the largest in decades. The last time the increase exceeded 5.9 percent was 1982. Since 2011, the COLA has not exceeded 3.6 percent.

Beneficiaries who are interested in verifying their new benefit amount will have to wait until early December. At that time, beneficiaries will be able to log onto to their my Social Security account to view their new monthly benefit payment, along with any increases in taxes, Medicare, or other withholdings. For those individuals who do not have an account, Social Security will mail them a Change of Benefit notification.

Social Security redesigns its Statement
In early October, Social Security released a redesigned Social Security Statement, designed to better help workers view their earnings history and estimated future benefits. To support an audience of largely disabled and retiree individuals, Commissioner Kijakazi discussed the importance of the new statement saying, in part,

“The streamlined Social Security Statement contains clear messaging and makes it easier to find information at a glance, helping to simplify our complex programs for the public.”

To ensure a more accurate and timely release of information, the SSA suggests that all workers over the age of 18 create a my Social Security account to easily verify their statements. The Social Security Statement is an important part of receiving Social Security benefits. All workers should check their statement at least once a year for accuracy.

Beneficiaries may be eligible for additional benefits
To ensure that all individuals, and their family members, are receiving the highest possible benefits they can, Social Security launched a Potential Entitlement initiative. Originally launched back in 2017, Acting Deputy Commissioner Bystry has recently put a renewed focus on the program, which has paid out over $550 million in retroactive and monthly benefit increases since its inception.

If you, or someone close to you, has had a recent life change such as a marriage, birth, or death, you or your loved one may be entitled to additional monthly benefits or healthcare coverage. You can reach out to your local Social Security office to speak with a representative to verify if you are eligible for any additional benefits.

Should you have any questions about the recent announcements from Social Security, you may reach out to your local Social Security office or reach out to The Advocator Group, now doing being as Brown & Brown Absence Services Group, for more information.

Nothing in this post is intended as advice or a suggestion to elect or not elect to claim benefits of any kind, including Social Security benefits, nor is it intended as financial advice in any way.  The decision to claim benefits is a personal one that is contingent upon each individual’s unique circumstances.

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