Social Security checks to increase

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 20, 2011

Those receiving Social Security benefits can expect, on average, a $40 increase in their monthly checks.

Nearly 12,000 Covington County residents will be among the 60 million Americans to receive the first increase in their monthly Social Security check since 2009.

The Social Security Administration announced a 3.6 percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) Wednesday, which will begin for the nearly 55 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2012 and for the more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries on Dec. 30.

Locally, that increase will benefit: 1,528 who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI); 6,414 who receive Social Security retirement; 1,150 who receive survivor/widow benefits; and 2,772 who receive Social Security disability.

Monthly Social Security payments average $1,082, or about $13,000 a year. A 3.6 percent increase will amount to about $39 a month, or just over $467 a year, on average.

Some of the increase in January will be lost to higher Medicare premiums, which are deducted from Social Security payments. Medicare Part B premiums for 2012 are expected to be announced next week, and the trustees who oversee the program are projecting an increase.

Government officials said there was no COLA in 2010 or 2011 because inflation was too low. Those were the first two years without a COLA since automatic increases were adopted in 1975. However, Social Security recipients did receive a one-time $250 payment from the economic stimulus package passed in 2009.

The amount of wages subject to Social Security taxes will also go up next year. This year, the first $106,800 in wages is subject to Social Security payroll taxes. Next year, the limit will increase to $110,100, the Social Security Administration said.

Of the 161 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes next year, about 10 million will pay higher takes as a result of the change, the agency said.