We’ve made it to 2022, and Social Security is still with us. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not going to disappear anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean everything is exactly the same as it used to be.
The government’s made some important changes to Social Security for 2022. Here are four that you should be aware of whether you’re already claiming, plan to sign up this year, or are still working.
1. You have to wait longer to qualify for your full benefit
The Social Security Administration assigns everyone a full retirement age (FRA) based on their birth year. This is when you become eligible for your full Social Security benefit based on your work history.
For adults turning 62 in 2022, their FRA is 67. This is two months higher than the FRA for adults who turned 62 in 2021.
That doesn’t mean you have to wait until 67 to sign up, but if you apply sooner, you’ll get smaller checks. Signing up right away at 62 means you’ll only get 70% of your full benefit per check.
On the other hand, you can delay benefits past your FRA, which will increase your checks. You can get up to 124% of your full benefit per check if you wait until 70 to apply. Delaying past this point won’t boost your checks, so make sure you sign up by your 70th birthday at the latest.
2. You’ll owe Social Security taxes on more income
It’s a popular misconception that you pay Social Security taxes on all of your income. For most people, that’s true. But for high earners, only some of their salary helps their future Social Security benefit.
In 2021, you paid Social Security taxes on the first $142,800 you earned. In 2022, this limit rises slightly to $147,000.
3. You can earn more at your job before giving up benefits
There’s no rule saying you can’t sign up for Social Security benefits while you’re still working. But doing so can have some unintended consequences if you’re under your FRA.
If you’ll be under your FRA for all of 2022, you’ll lose $1 for every $2 you earn over $19,560. This is a slight increase from 2021, when you could only earn $18,960 before the government started taking a bite out of your Social Security checks.
If you’ll reach your FRA in 2022, you’ll lose $1 for every $3 you earn over $51,960 if you hit this amount before your birthday. This limit was $50,520 in 2021.
The good news is, even if you do lose some of your Social Security benefits because you’re still working, the government will give it back to you at your FRA. It recalculates your benefit to account for the money it previously withheld, and your future checks will be larger.
4. You’ll get larger Social Security checks if you’re already claiming
The 2022 Social Security cost of living adjustment (COLA) is one of the largest in recent years. Checks will grow by 5.9%. That’s an extra $92 per month for seniors who qualified for the average $1,564 monthly benefit in 2021.
Although that sounds like a good thing, that extra money may not go as far as you’d hope. The reason the COLA is so large this year is because inflation is high. So that extra $92 will probably go toward helping you cover the increased costs on your everyday items.
These changes may not all affect you, but they’re important to keep in mind anyway. Understanding how the government can alter the Social Security program will give you a better idea of what to expect when you sign up, whether that’s tomorrow or in 10 years.
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