Let's talke about Social Security

Creating a "my Social Security" account, changes for 2015 and Medicare enrollment.

Why You Need a my Social Security Account

To date, over 15 million people have opened a my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount, taking advantage of the benefits of my Social Security.

Why are so many Americans opening accounts? Because my Social Security is a fast, easy, and secure way to:

  • Access your Social Security Statement to keep track of your earnings and verify them every year;
  • Get an estimate of your future benefits if you are still working;
  • Get a letter with proof of your benefits if you currently receive them; and
  • Manage your benefits:
    • Change your address; and
    • Start or change your direct deposit.

Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, said “A my Social Security account is a convenient, cost-effective and secure way for the public to do business with us from the comfort of their home, office or library."

To create a my Social Security account, you must provide some personal information about yourself, answer some questions that only you are likely to know, and: 

  • Have a valid E-mail address,
  • Have a Social Security number,
  • Have a U.S. mailing address, and
  • Be at least 18 years of age.

Check it out and sign up for your free my Social Security account today at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount

 

Social Security Changes for 2015

Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for nearly 64 million Americans will increase 1.7 percent in 2015. The 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits that more than 58 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2015. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2014.

Some other changes that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $118,500 from $117,000. Of the estimated 168 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2015, about 10 million will pay higher taxes because of the increase in the taxable maximum.

The estimated average monthly Social Security payments and SSI payments are: 

Estimated Average Monthly Social Security Benefits Payable in January 2015:

Before
1.7% COLA

After
1.7% COLA

All Retired Workers

$1,306

$1,328

All Disabled Workers

$1,146

$1,165

SSI Federal Payment Standard:

2014

2015

Individual

$721/mo.

$ 733/mo.

Couple

$1,082/mo.

$1,100/mo.

The earnings limit for workers who are younger than "full" retirement age (age 66 for people born in 1943 through 1954) will be $15,720. (We deduct $1 from benefits for each $2 earned over $15,720.) The earnings limit for people turning 66 in 2015 will be $41,880. (We deduct $1 from benefits for each $3 earned over $41,880 until the month the worker turns age 66.) There is no limit on earnings for workers who are "full" retirement age or older for the entire year.  Learn more by reading, How Work Affects Your Benefits.

The amount of earnings needed for one credit of Social Security coverage has gone up as well, but all workers can still earn up to four credits in a year. In 2015, a worker earns a credit after earning $1,220. In 2014, one credit of coverage was $1,200. It takes forty credits to be fully insured for retirement benefits.

If you worked this year and your latest annual earnings turns out to be one of your highest, we refigure your benefit and pay you any increase due. This is an automatic process – so there is no need to bring your W-2 form or tax return to your Social Security office. For example, in December 2014, you should get an increase for your 2013 earnings if those earnings raised your benefit. The increase would be retroactive to January 2014.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced the standard Medicare Part B monthly premium remain unchanged at $104.90 for 2015. Further information about Medicare changes for 2015 is available at www.medicare.gov

To read more about the 2015 Social Security changes, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.

 

Medicare: General Enrollment And General Information

Need Medicare Part B? If you’re eligible, the time to sign up is near.  The general enrollment period for Medicare Part B runs from January 1 through March 31.  Before you make a decision about general enrollment, let us fill you in on some general information.

There are four parts to Medicare: Parts A, B, C and D.  Part A helps pay for inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing care, hospice care, and other services.  Part B helps pay for doctors' fees, outpatient hospital visits, and other medical services and supplies not covered by Part A.  Part C allows you to choose to receive all of your health care services through a provider organization.  These plans, known as Medicare Advantage Plans, may help lower your costs of receiving medical services, or you may get extra benefits for an additional monthly fee. You must have both Parts A and B to enroll in Part C.  And Part D is the Medicare Prescription Drug Program.

Most people first become eligible for Medicare at age 65, and there is a monthly premium for Medicare Part B.  In 2015, the standard premium is $104.90. Some high-income individuals pay more than the standard premium. Your Part B premium also can be higher if you do not enroll during your initial enrollment period, or when you first become eligible.

There are exceptions to this rule. For example, you can delay your Medicare Part B enrollment without having to pay higher premiums if you are covered under a group health plan based on your own current employment or your spouse’s current employment. If this situation applies to you, then you have a “special enrollment period”, in which you can sign up for Medicare Part B without paying higher premiums:

  • Any month you are under a group health plan based on your own current employment or the current employment of any family member; or
  • Within eight months after your employment or group health plan coverage ends, whichever comes first.

If you are disabled and working (or you have coverage from a working family member), the same rules apply.

Note: Special enrollment period rules do not apply while a person is in their initial enrollment period.  If you are eligible at age 65, your initial enrollment period begins three months before your 65th birthday, includes the month you turn age 65 and ends three months after that birthday.

If a person is already receiving Social Security retirement benefits they will be automatically enrolled in Medicare Part B when they become eligible at age 65.

If you don’t enroll in Medicare Part B when you first become eligible to apply and you aren’t eligible for a special enrollment period, you'll have to wait until the general enrollment period, which is January 1 through March 31 of each year. At that time, you may have to pay a higher Medicare Part B premium.

For more information about Medicare Parts A, B, C, and D, visit the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) website at www.mediare.gov. Or read our publication on Medicare at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10043.html.

Depending on income and resources, you may be eligible for Extra Help With Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs.  More information about the Extra Help is available at www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp .