As providers of medical review services to social security disability attorneys, we keep a close watch on the developments and updates in the social security arena. Now that we are on to 2017, it would be well in place to have a look at the various social security updates and changes that are scheduled to take place this year.
- The monthly benefit checks for 2017 will increase on account of the automated cost-of-living (COLA) adjustment. The increase is by 0.3%.
- The average monthly retirement check will be $1360 in 2017, an increase of $5 from 2016. For a worker retiring at age 66 in 2017, the maximum social security check will be $2,687 (in 2016 this was $2,639). It does not mean that this amount is the maximum social security payment a person can receive. There are numerous social security beneficiaries who earn much more because they work well past age 66.
- The taxable earnings base will increase from $118,500 in 2016 to $127,200 in 2017. People who earn more than $127,200 will no longer have social security payroll taxes deducted from their paychecks once they have reached that limit (this has always been a controversial provision of the law.)
- To be eligible for monthly benefit checks from the SSA, most people need at least 40 social security work credits. In 2016, for each $1260 in social security taxable income, workers earned one credit. You get to earn a maximum of 4 credits each year, which means that once you make $5,040, you have received the maximum 4 credits or quarters of coverage. In 2017, the one-credit limit increases to $1,300 – you have to earn $5,200 before you get the maximum 4 credits.
- A higher earnings threshold is there in the year you turn 66, which is applicable from the beginning of the year till the month you turn 66. Once you reach full retirement age, this income penalty goes away. In 2016, this threshold was $41,880 and this will increase to $44,880 in 2017.
- If you are below age 66 and receive social security retirement or survivor’s benefits but are still working, you will be subject to limits in the amount of money you can earn and still receive SS benefits. In 2016, that limit was $15,720 and in 2017 it will be $16,920. For every 2 dollars you earn over those limits, one dollar will be withheld from your monthly benefits.
- The supplemental security income basic federal payment level for one person will increase to $735 in 2017 (from $733 in 2016).
- People receiving social security disability benefits and try to work can typically continue receiving those benefits provided they are not working at a “substantial level.” Substantial work in 2016 was any job paying $1,130 or more each month. This substantial earnings level is increased to $1,170 per month in 2017.