The beginning of 2013 brought about several changes to everything from health insurance to tax code to social security benefits. While the majority of these changes have been small and will affect seniors very little, a few of them will directly impact recipients of social security benefits. Here’s what to expect:
Extended online services: Many services are now available online that never have been before, such as: starting Social Security payments, accessing benefit verification letter and payment history, change of address, start/stop/change direct deposit information. Access to this information will reduce the burden of Social Security offices nationwide by allowing workers to have conversations that really need to be done face to face, as well as reduce the burden on seniors who may have trouble getting around. Online services can be accessed at www.ssa.gov/onlineservices
No more paper checks: Beginning March 1st, 2013 the Treasury department will eliminate the mailing of paper checks all together. Retirees who currently receive paper checks will be required to either enroll in direct deposit, having their Social Security payments automatically transferred into their banking or credit union accounts, or they can elect to have the funds loaded onto a prepaid Direct Express Debit MasterCard. Currently approximately 93% of Social Security and SSI payments are already being made electronically.
Higher earning limit for working seniors: Workers between the age of 62 and 66 who also collect Social Security benefits could have all or part of their benefits temporarily withheld. These workers can earn up to $15,120 in 2013 after which $1 in benefits will be withheld for every $2 in income above the earning limit. Workers who turn 66 this year can earn up to $40,080 at which time $1 of benefits will be withheld for every $3 earned above the limit. Once you turn age 66, the earning limit will no longer apply to you.
Larger Social Security payments. In January of 2013, beneficiaries began receiving payments that were 1.7 percent larger as a result of a cost-of-living adjustment. The average monthly Social Security benefit in January increased from $1,240 to $1,261.
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