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Changes are coming to Social Security in 2019

Each year around mid-October, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announces how its benefits programs will be changing during the following year. These updates often have to do with what it takes to qualify for benefits and how much of increase in payments beneficiaries may see. There are at least a half dozen changes that are expected in 2019.

One of the well-publicized changes this year has to do with a cost-of-living (COL) adjustment. Those who receive Social Security benefits will see the amount they receive increase by 2.8 percent, the highest increase since 2012. The increase in housing and energy costs motivated the SSA to offer this larger COL increase in the coming year.

Also, starting in 2019, the maximum taxable earnings cap will increase. Those who make up to $124,400 had 12.4 percent of their pay withheld for Social Security in 2018. Now, income up to $132,900 will have that same percentage deducted, an amount that equates to $4,500. Those earning in excess of the capped amount will be exempt from further wages being garnished.

The total monthly stipend that you're eligible to receive upon reaching full retirement age (FRA) will increase from $2,788 per month to $2,861 in 2019. Recipients will also have to reach the age of 66 years and six months in order to qualify for retirement benefits. This is an increase of two months over last year.

Those who haven't reached FRA yet who apply for Social Security (SS) benefits will be allowed to earn $1,420 per month without putting themselves at risk for losing their benefits. That amount will increase to $1,470 in 2019. Those who have reached FRA who haven't yet drawn SS will be entitled to make $3,910 per month, an increase over $3,780 in 2018, and have only $1 per every $3 in earnings withheld.

Understanding the changes that the SSA announces every year can be just as confusion as trying to understand the changes in tax codes that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) institutes annually. If you have a serious impairment and draw disability payments, a St. Louis Social Security Administration attorney can help you understand what changes most affect you.

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