|List By Date|
|Health Care and Entitlements|
Little Increase In Social
Security Benefits Next Year
(Riverwoods, Ill., October 21, 1998) -- For the third
year running, Social Security beneficiaries will see a
smaller annual increase in their benefits due to low
inflation, according to CCH INCORPORATED, a
leading provider of pension, tax and business law
information. The annual increase will be 1.3 percent
according to CCH Social Security analyst Avram Sacks,
J.D., based on cost-of-living figures released by the
Labor Department and the Social Security Administration.
The increase will be officially published in the Federal
Register by the end of October. It will first be
applied to December 1998 benefits, which are paid in
January of 1999.
The cost of living adjustment, or COLA, for 1999
compares with a 2.1 percent increase in benefits received
in 1998 and a 2.9 percent increase in 1997. Since
automatic COLAs became effective in 1975, they have
ranged from a high of 14.3 percent calculated in 1980 and
applied to benefits in the last half of that year to a
previous low of 1.3 percent calculated in 1986 and
applied to benefits paid in 1987.
"Low inflation is generally beneficial to people
living on Social Security, but a low cost of living
adjustment is an obvious consequence," Sacks said.
The COLA is applied to several types of benefits:
retirement, disability and survivors, and to the family
maximum benefit -- the maximum that can be paid if more
than one family member is receiving benefits based on one
wage earners account. It also affects what are
known as "transitional" benefits -- a special
calculation applicable to those who reach ages 78 through
82 in 1999 -- and to "special age 72" benefits
which are limited benefits paid to certain aged workers
and their spouses, or surviving spouses, in cases where
the worker is not credited with enough "quarters of
coverage" to qualify as "fully insured"
under the Social Security laws, Sacks said.
Earnings Limits Also Rise
The amount that certain Social Security beneficiaries
can earn without having their benefits reduced --
"Earnings Test Exempt Amounts" in Social
Security terminology -- will also go up next year.
Beneficiaries who are 65 through 69 years old will be
able to earn up to $15,500 in 1999, or $1,292 per month,
without having their benefits trimmed. This is an
increase of $1,000 over the 1998 annual limit of $14,500.
Exempt amounts for this age group have been set by
statute for future years up until 2002 when the exempt
amount will be $30,000.
People under age 65 who are receiving benefits can
earn up to $9,600 in 1999, or $800 per month, without
having their benefits reduced. This is an
inflation-adjusted increase of $480 a year over the 1998
Beneficiaries age 70 and older are not subject to
benefit reductions based on earnings.
About CCH INCORPORATED
CCH INCORPORATED, Riverwoods, Ill., is a
leading provider of employment law and human resource
information, including Social Security Reporter, Unemployment
Insurance Reports, Payroll Management Guide, Pension Plan
Guide and Employee Benefits Management. CCH
also provides tax and business law information in print
and electronic form for accounting, legal and health care
professionals. CCH is a wholly owned subsidiary of
Wolters Kluwer U.S.
-- ### --