There are certain Social Security changes coming down the pike that can benefit seniors. One such change is the 5.9% cost-of-living adjustment benefits will be getting come 2022. Once that raise is implemented, the average monthly benefit will rise from $1,565 to $1,657.
Another positive change for 2022? A higher earnings-test limit for those who collect a paycheck from a job but also collect benefits.
But while some incoming Social Security changes are likely to have a positive financial effect on a lot of people, others may have a negative one. Here are two such changes that could affect your finances for the worse.
1. A higher wage cap
Social Security is primarily funded with payroll taxes. But workers don’t automatically pay taxes on all of their income. Rather, there’s a wage cap that’s put into place every year that dictates how much income gets taxed.
This year, the wage cap sits at $142,800. But come 2022, it will increase to $147,000. That means higher earners will pay taxes on an additional $4,200 of income.
Now it’s easy to argue that higher earners shouldn’t be bothered by this change. After all, if they earn that much money, they shouldn’t whine about paying taxes on it.
But let’s remember that in some parts of the country, a salary of $147,000 won’t go very far, especially in areas where a starter home can cost almost $1 million. And so a rising wage cap may hurt those people who aren’t close to being millionaires, but who earn more than the typical American.
2. A higher threshold for earning work credits
To qualify for Social Security benefits based on your own earnings record, you need to accumulate 40 work credits in your lifetime. The amount of earnings needed to secure a work credit changes from year to year, and you can earn up to four credits per year.
Right now, it takes $1,470 of earnings to get a single work credit. Come 2022, it will take $1,510.
None of this is a big deal for those who work full-time. But part-time workers who are just on the cusp of qualifying for Social Security may get hurt by this change — especially if they’re unable to increase their hours and income.
The Social Security changes that come down the pike can be beneficial or harmful. Whether you’re already collecting benefits, gearing up to file in the next couple of years, or are nowhere close to retirement, it pays to stay informed about those changes so you know what to expect.
If your earnings are such, for example, that you’ll be hit with a higher tax bill this year due to the wage cap changing, you can compensate by cutting back on non-essential expenses if you’re worried about absorbing that bill. And if you’re a part-time worker, you may want to pick up a few more hours to ensure that you get all of the work credits you’re after. Either way, educating yourself and staying aware will put you in a stronger position to make smart choices.
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