Social Security Benefits to Edge Up 1.7 Percent

The nation's elderly and disabled Social Security recipients will receive a 1.7 percent increase in payments in 2013. The increase is less than half of last year's 3.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).

Starting in January 2013, the average monthly Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payment for all workers will rise from $1,113 to $1,132 a month for individuals and from $1,887 to $1,919 for a person with disabilities with a spouse and at least one child. The 1.7 percent increase will apply to both elderly and disabled Social Security recipients, and individuals who receive both disability and retirement Social Security will see increases in both types of benefits. The maximum Social Security benefit for a worker retiring at full retirement age, which is age 66 for those born between 1943 and 1954, will be $2,533 a month.

The Social Security COLA also raises the maximum amount of earnings that a worker can receive in a month before being presumed to be engaged in substantial gainful activity from $1,010 per month to $1,040. If a person with a disability receives more than this amount of money in wages per month, he will likely not qualify for SSDI benefits.

For 2013, the monthly federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment standard will be $710 for an individual and $1,066 for a couple, up from $698 and $1,048, respectively. These numbers are both the maximum federal SSI benefits available and the income limit for qualifying for SSI benefits. The SSI resource limits of $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple remain unchanged.

For beneficiaries also receiving Medicare, the modest inflation adjustment will be partially offset by Medicare's premium increases for 2013, which will be announced soon. Most Medicare recipients have their premiums deducted from their Social Security payments. The same COLA will apply to pensions for federal government retirees and most veterans.

"While this modest increase will help, much of the COLA will be consumed by health care and prescription costs, which continually outpace inflation," said Nancy LeaMond, executive vice president of AARP. "Every day, retirees and other beneficiaries struggling to make ends meet still feel like they're falling further behind."

For a complete list of the 2013 Social Security changes, go to: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pressoffice/factsheets/colafacts2013.htm

Article Last Modified: 10/24/2012

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