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Social Security Changes Coming in 2017

Social Security beneficiaries can expect a slight increase in their Social Security check in 2017. There have also been several recent tweaks to the program that change how married couples can collect benefits. Here’s a sneak peak at the new Social Security rules for next year: 

Modest increase in payments – Social Security payments will increase by 0.3 percent beginning in January. (Translation: a free cup of latte.) This cost-of-living adjustment is estimated to result in the average Social Security beneficiary receiving an extra $5 per month.

Higher tax cap – Most workers pay 6.2 percent of their earnings into the Social Security system, and employers match this amount, until their salary exceeds the taxable maximum. The maximum taxable earnings amount will increase from $118,500 in 2016 to $127,200 in 2017, due to an increase in average wages. 

Increase in maximum possible benefit – The maximum possible payout for someone retiring at his or her full retirement age of 66 will increase by $48 to $2,687 in 2017. 

No more double claiming – Dual-earner married couples who are 66 or older have the option to collect spousal payments worth half of the higher earner’s benefit amount, and then later switch to payments based on their own work record. However, people who turned 62 on January 2, 2016 or later will no longer be able to claim both a spousal payment and an individual payment at different times.

Dependents can’t receive benefits if you suspend payments – Social Security beneficiaries can voluntarily suspend their payments between ages 66 and 70 in order to earn delayed retirement credits that will result in a higher monthly payment when benefits are resumed. However, a new rule that applies to benefit suspensions requested on April 30, 2016 or later will additionally stop payments to family members based on your work record during the period of benefit suspension.