Social Security Benefits to Increase in 2019
Each year we announce the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). Usually, there is an increase in the benefit amount people will receive each month, starting the following January. By law, federal benefits increase when the cost of living rises, as measured by the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).
As a result, more than 67 million Americans will see a 2.8 percent increase in their Social Security and SSI benefits in 2019.
January 2019 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, as well as the retirement earnings test exempt amount, will change in 2019.
In December 2018, we will post Social Security COLA notices online for retirement, survivors, and disability beneficiaries who have a my
Social Security account. Your clients will be able to view and save these COLA notices via the Message Center inside my
Encourage your clients to be the first to know their new benefit amount by signing up for or logging in to their personal my
Social Security account today at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. They can choose email or text under “Message Center Preferences” to receive courtesy notifications so they won’t miss their electronic COLA notice.
This year, your clients will still receive their COLA notice by mail. In the future, they will be able to choose whether to receive their notice online instead of on paper. Online notices will not be available to representative payees, individuals with foreign mailing addresses, or those who pay higher Medicare premiums due to their income. We plan to expand the availability of COLA notices to additional online customers in the future.
More information about the 2019 COLA is available at www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.
New Enhancement to the Online Benefits Application
We’re constantly improving how we protect and secure the information your clients entrust to us. We’ve added a new step and a new level of security to the online benefits application process. Effective September 29, 2018, your clients who wish to file a claim online will be asked to create or log in to their personal my
Social Security account. If we cannot process that request, we will provide specific information on how to contact us by phone or schedule an office appointment to complete the claims process.
Once they log in, they can begin their application. The online benefits application gives your clients the freedom and convenience to file for various types of benefits, including Retirement, Disability, Supplemental Security Income, and Medicare.
Our constant commitment is to secure the services we provide to you and your clients. Applying for benefits online is safer, easier, and more secure than ever!
You and your clients can learn more about the online benefits application at
www.socialsecurity.gov/hlp/video/iclaim_r01.htm for Retirement/Spouse’s/Medicare and
www.socialsecurity.gov/hlp/video/iclaim_d01.htm for Disability.
Social Security Testifies Before Congress
On September 27, Rajive Mathur, Deputy Commissioner for Systems, testified before a Congressional committee on efforts to modernize information technology (IT) at the Social Security Administration. In his testimony, he said:
“The scope of our programs is immense, and information technology is vital to nearly every aspect of the work we do to serve the public. IT allows our field office employees to collect pertinent information and perform complex benefit calculations; it provides for electronic storage and retrieval of medical records and other information; it protects the sensitive personal, benefits, and earnings information that we maintain; and it helps identify and prevent fraud and improper payments in our programs and across government.”
Social Security tirelessly protects your information. You and your clients can read the transcript in its entirety at www.socialsecurity.gov/legislation/congressionaltestimony.html.
Stay Connected and Share Social Security
Your clients probably use social media and the internet every day. Let them know that Social Security Matters, our blog, isn’t just a wealth of information, it’s a resource they can share with family and friends. You and your clients can access vital program and benefit information at blog.socialsecurity.gov.
Our Facebook and YouTube pages are also easy to share with people who need quick information about Social Security benefits. You can visit each of these resources at www.facebook.com/socialsecurity and www.youtube.com/socialsecurity.
Social Security National Disability Forum
Social Security will hold a National Disability Forum on November 28, 2018, at the Partnership for Public Service in Washington, D.C. from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. The topic will be “Enhancing the Reconsideration Process.” Participants will discuss potential areas of improvement in the claims process — especially at the reconsideration step.
Medicare Open Enrollment
Enrollment is open for Medicare now through December 7, 2018. This is an annual period when people can sign up for new Medicare health and drug plans to suit their changing needs.
Medicare is our country’s health insurance program for people age 65 or older. Certain people younger than age 65 can qualify for Medicare, too, including certain people with disabilities and those who have permanent kidney failure.
Inform your clients that they can pick a new plan or change their existing one at www.medicare.gov.