A variety of changes are coming to the nation's social security system in 2012. For the first time in three years, social security recipients will see an increase in their benefits checks. To account for inflation and cost of living increases, payments will be increased by 3.6 percent. That means approximately 60 million Americans will see an average increase in benefits of $43 per month. Unfortunately, a portion of the increase will likely be deducted from many social security checks to pay for increased Medicare premiums.
The wage cap on social security taxes will also increase in 2012 from $106,800 to $110,100 for individuals. This means higher income earners will pay social security taxes on an additional $4,300 of their income. According to the Social Security Administration, approximately 10 million Americans will pay higher social security taxes in 2012 due to the increase. The maximum social security benefits payment will also increase to $2,513 in 2012.
In 2011, workers throughout the nation benefited from a two percent payroll tax cut. This means throughout 2011, instead of paying 6.2 percent of their pay to social security, approximately 160 million workers in the United States only paid a 4.2 percent tax. Last week, the so called payroll tax cut was extended when Congress passed the "Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012." The tax cut is expected to increase an American employee's average take home pay by about $1,000 in 2012.
Social security recipients who have not achieved full retirement age may earn wages up to a specified limit before their benefits are affected. In 2012, beneficiaries will be allowed to earn an additional $480 in paid wages before a portion of their benefits are temporarily withheld. After recipients achieve full retirement age, which is currently 66 years old for those person born between 1943 and 1954, there is no penalty for earning wages while collecting social security benefits.
Contrary to what many believe, social security benefits are not just for the retired. Federal Social Security Disability Insurance is designed to assist injured individuals whose recovery or disability will keep them from returning to work for at least one year. Social security disability benefit payments average approximately $1,000 per month and recipients are provided with access to health care benefits. The application process requires applicants to meet strict requirements and follow detailed procedures. Because the application process is complex, it is a good idea to consult with an experienced social security disability lawyer before filing your claim.
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