Social Security Benefits Increase in 2021
Approximately 70 million Americans will see a 1.3 percent increase in their Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments in 2021. Federal benefit rates increase when the cost-of-living rises, as measured by the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index (CPI-W).
The CPI-W rises when inflation increases, leading to a higher cost-of-living. This change means prices for goods and services, on average, are a little more expensive, so the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) helps to offset these costs.
We will mail COLA notices throughout the month of December to retirement, survivors, and disability beneficiaries, SSI recipients, and representative payees. If your clients want to know their new benefit amount sooner, they can securely obtain the Social Security COLA notice online using the Message Center in my Social Security in early December prior to the mailed notice.
Your clients who already have a personal my Social Security account can opt out of receiving a mailed COLA notice and other paper notices that are available online. They can also choose text or email alerts when there is a notice in Message Center by updating Preferences to know when we have something important for them. For people who don’t have an account yet, they must create their account by November 18, 2020 to receive the 2021 COLA notice online.
January 2021 marks other changes that will happen based on the increase in the national average wage index. For example, the maximum amount of earnings subject to Social Security payroll tax in 2021 will be higher. The retirement earnings test exempt amount will also change in 2021. Your clients can read our COLA factsheet at www.ssa.gov/news/press/factsheets/colafacts2021.pdf.
Please encourage your clients to be the first to know. They can sign up for or log in to their personal my Social Security account today at www.ssa.gov/myaccount. They may also choose email or text under “Message Center Preferences” to receive courtesy notifications. Your clients can find more information about the 2021 COLA at www.ssa.gov/cola.
Social Security Informing Your Clients About Recent Scams
The most effective way to defeat scammers is to know how to identify scams. Let your clients know they should just hang up on any call they’re uncertain of and ignore suspicious emails. Scammers always find new ways to steal people’s money and personal information by exploiting their fears.
One common tactic scammers use is posing as federal agents and other law enforcement. They may claim your client’s Social Security number is linked to a crime. They may even threaten to arrest your clients if they do not comply with their instructions. Tell your clients to just hang up.
Your clients should remain vigilant of phone calls when someone says there’s a problem with their Social Security number or their benefits. If they owe money to Social Security, we will mail them a letter explaining their rights, payment options, and information about appealing.
If your clients do not have ongoing business with our agency, it is unlikely we will contact them. If they get a suspicious call claiming to be from Social Security, they should hang up and report it to our law enforcement office at oig.ssa.gov.
Quick and Easy W-2 Filing Options using Business Services Online
The first stop for information on W-2s, electronic filing, and verifying Social Security numbers should be our Business Services Online. Our online suite of services offers fast, free, and secure online W-2 filing options to accountants and people who process W-2s (the Wage and Tax Statement) and W-2Cs (Statement of Corrected Income and Tax Amounts).
Users must register to use these services at www.ssa.gov/bso/bsowelcome.htm. They can read more about electronic wage reporting at www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10034.pdf.
Social Security has the Answers
Your clients may have questions about our programs and benefits. We can answer them. We regularly update our Frequently Asked Questions webpage at www.ssa.gov/faq, which answers questions about our program and services, many of which can be handled online.
Your clients can see our top questions as well as browse by topic to find the information they need. Recent pressing topics include the recent COLA announcement, COVID-19 information, current scams, and my Social Security accounts. Please remind your clients that they can easily share this information with friends and family who may need it.
Plan for the Future and Manage the Present with a my Social Security Account
A my Social Security account is not only for people receiving Social Security benefits. Here are the many features people not receiving benefits can access online with their personal my Social Security account:
- Request a replacement Social Security card (in most states).
- View, print, or save a copy of their Social Security Statement.
- View their earnings history.
- Find out if they have enough work credits to be eligible to receive benefits.
- Find out if they qualify for other types of benefits (i.e., disability, survivors, and Medicare coverage).
- View, print, or save a letter verifying that they do not receive benefits.
- View the benefits they could receive based on their spouse’s earnings history.
- If they have enough work credits to be eligible to receive benefits, they can also:
- Compare retirement benefit estimates at different ages or dates when they want to start receiving benefits.
- View what benefits their spouse could receive based on their earnings history.
- Start the benefit application process online.
- Check the status of their application.
Please encourage your clients to open a my Social Security account at www.ssa.gov/myaccount.
The Disability Update Report Can Now be Completed Online
The Disability Update Report is part of our Continuing Disability Review (CDR) process, which is required by law. We periodically review each case to determine if the beneficiary continues to meet the eligibility rules to receive disability benefits. We mail the Disability Update Report, or Form SSA-455, to disabled beneficiaries to obtain updated information about their medical conditions and recent treatments. They now also have the option to complete the SSA-455 online at https://www.ssa.gov/ssa455-online-form.
Economic Impact Payment News
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced two important updates about economic impact payments (EIP). First, the IRS has extended the deadline for non-tax filers to provide information to get their EIP this year. The IRS previously announced that adult non-tax filers would have until November 21 to submit their information via the IRS’ Non-Filer Tool, while the deadline to submit information for children had expired. However, now, adults may continue to submit their children’s information until November 21 as well. An adult may receive up to $1,200. Adults with a qualifying child can get $500 per child.
Additionally, the IRS is now enabling Social Security and Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries, who already received their own EIP, to use the Non-Filer Tool to register for a payment for their spouse or qualifying child if they did not receive their EIP. To help increase awareness about the importance of registering for an EIP, the IRS has established November 10 as National Economic Impact Payment Registration Day. Please help inform your clients about the extended deadline and that they can now use the tool for their spouse or child, even if they already received their own EIP.