fyi50+: There have been several stories this year about Social Security and retirement planning in the media. It’s hard to keep them all straight, so I asked Dave Freitag if he could share a summary of the most beneficial stories written in 2022 and why they are important.
Dave Freitag: The top story of genuine interest to workers aged 62 and over is the rumored increase to the Social Security COLA benefit next year.
The Social Security Administration measures the cost-of-living increases in July, August, and September to determine the amount of the increase for the upcoming year.
The sizable COLA increase in 2022 was 5.9%. However, the projected increase for 2023 is approaching a number higher than 8.5%.
When the cost-of-living increase is in the 1-2% range, the importance of a built-in COLA adjustment does not seem like a huge deal.
However, when you have a 5.9% increase (2022) and another to follow that approaches 8.5% or more (2023), the value of the COLA adjustment is evident.
For most retirees, Social Security income is the only one that automatically adjusts for cost-of-living increases.
A second top story has focused on the importance of survivor benefits.
As Covid ripped through the country, more than a million died. The Social Security survivor benefit is now providing income to many families to help replace the economic loss associated with the pandemic.
Remember, part of Social Security is a form of life insurance and is in the 6.2% payroll tax that funds the Social Security system.
fyi50+: What are the other important stories so far this year?
Dave: One of my favorites is introducing and distributing the new “Blue Bar” Social Security statement.
This new form has essential information for every worker in the country and increases the value of the myAccount on www.SSA.gov.
Next, the Social Security Administration announced the reopening of local Social Security Offices.
When the local Social Security Offices were closed for in-person meetings due to Covid, many people had only one method of getting help with their questions. That help was available after a long wait on the phone.
Reopening the local offices provides better access to the SSA and helps workers resolve complex problems about their benefits.
Finally, there’s the announcement of the continuation of the “Slam the Scam” project with the AARP.
The Social Security Administration has been very aggressive in its fight to help workers understand out-of-the-blue telephone calls (or emails) about their benefits are a scam and could subject them to financial hardship.
This Slam and Scam project has helped reduce the number of these types of contacts and has saved workers a great deal of time and money.
fyi50+: Thanks, Dave. We will keep an eye on these issues in the coming months and make every effort to keep our readers up to date on the changes we can expect in 2023 and beyond.