A number of changes come to Social Security this year and they will affect everyone who either pays in or collects. These Social Security changes went into effect on Jan. 1. How will they affect you?
1) Cost-of-Living Increase--The cost-of-living adjustment will raise Social Security payouts 3.6 percent, and the typical retiree will see a $43 a month increase, though some of that may be deducted to pay for Medicare Part B premiums. The Social Security Administration has automatically adjusted payments every year for inflation, which is measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. The change since 2010 and 2011, however, was 0 percent.
2) Higher Tax Cap--In 2011, the maximum amount of earnings subject to Social Security was $106,800, but that will increase to $110,000 this year. The Social Security Administration said this increase will cause 10 million more people to pay higher taxes as a result.
3) Higher Earnings Limit--Early retirees who work and collect Social Security can earn $480 more before they are penalized. They can now earn up to $14,640 in 2012, and 50 cents of every dollar earned above that is withheld from their Social Security benefit. Retirees who will turn 66 in 2012 can earn $38,880, and 33 cents of every dollar is withheld after that. Once retirees hit their retirement age, there is no penalty for working and collecting.
4) Maximum Benefit Increases--The maximum amount of money a retiree can earn from Social Security grows to $2,513 a month in 2012, up from $2,366. However, in order to qualify for that amount, a worker needs to earn the maximum amount of $110,000 every year after age 21.