Medicare, Social Security, and Insurance

11/12/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

Jackie Stewart, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

In Kiplinger’s Personal Finance column, Ask Kip, financial expert Jackie Steward discusses the cost-of-living adjustments and other changes for Social Security in 2022.

Question:

What is the cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security in 2022? And are there any other changes?

Answer:

The Social Security Administration has set the cost-of-living adjustment at 5.9%. That’s the largest COLA since 1982, when benefits increased 7.4%. The COLA is calculated using the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.

The increase was driven by rising costs for a variety of goods, including new and used cars, appliances, televisions, furniture, gasoline and electricity. Medicare Part B and Part D premiums are also expected to be higher for 2022.

But that’s not the only change for Social Security. The annual earnings limit also increases in 2022. If you hit your full retirement age next year, you can earn $51,960 or less in the months before your birthday and not have any Social Security benefits claimed in 2022 withheld. Social Security Administration withholds $1 in benefits for every $3 earned over the limit the year of your full retirement age. Once you reach that age, there is no earnings cap.

Individuals who are 62 through 65 by the end of 2022 can make up to $19,560 before any benefits are withheld. For these early filers, Social Security temporarily withholds $1 in $2 earned over that limit.

Note: You don’t lose these withheld benefits forever. Once you reach your full retirement age, your benefits are recalculated to give you credit for the amount withheld.

How to maximize your Social Security benefits

Additionally, for 2022, the monthly earnings test is more generous. Although Social Security applies the annual earnings test first, there is also a monthly earnings test that can be used for only one year, usually the first year of retirement, and it’s helpful for midyear retirees whose earnings exceeded the annual limit.

If you pass this test, you can keep 100% of your benefits for any month the agency considers you retired, regardless of total annual earnings. Even if you’re under your full retirement age for all of 2022, Social Security considers you retired provided that you earn $1,630 or less in any month. The monthly earnings test is a more generous $4,330 or less if you hit your full retirement age in 2022 and only applies in the months before that milestone.

Another change for those still working: More of your earnings will be subject to the Social Security payroll tax in 2022. The tax will apply to the first $147,000 of earnings, a $4,200 hike.

Jackie Stewart is a senior editor at Kiplinger’s Retirement Report. For more on this and similar money topics, visit Kiplinger.com.

© 2021 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff