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Community Manager
Community Manager

Ask the Expert: Social Security

AARP Social Security experts Joel Eskovitz and Jim Palmieri will lead the conversation and answer your questions around Social Security benefits as part of our Savings and Planning Theme Month. Join us here to learn more about the expected cost of living adjustment (COLA) for 2022 and how AARP can help answer your top questions about Social Security benefits.

 

Please note: experts do not answer a Member’s personal questions, but offer insights and general guidance into best practices, tips, resources – including the AARP Social Security Resource Center.

 

Learn and Earn! Ask a question of our experts to earn 50 points awarded via code emailed to you after you participate (one entry per week given points). Ends October 25.

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Contributor

Besides the taxes already being taken out of SS checks, how can I know how much additional I will have to pay due to the increased monthly amount?  I am 71 and have to work to make ends meet as it is, and I’m taxed as if I was a wealthy person, not an elderly man barely hanging on. 

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AARP Expert

 @DJB75 The increase we are speaking about here is an increase in Social Security benefits. Your payroll taxes will stay the same (6.2% of your paycheck, or 12.4% if you are self-employed). The only change on that side of the ledger for 2022 is that the cap on income taxed for Social Security moves from about $143,000 to $147,000, but it does not sound from your question as though you would be impacted by that change. 

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Regular Contributor

With inflation and all- is there a plan for increasing income for seniors.. How bout less taxes? It is difficult to live with what is going on.. Has any more been said re prescription drugs and making them more reasonable for senios?

 

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AARP Expert

@d953405f AARP certainly understands what you are dealing with in terms of prescription drug costs. Although that is a bit out of my wheelhouse, I encourage you to get involved with our campaign to lower prescription drug prices, found here.

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Regular Contributor

While reasonable legislation with regard to senior income (your SSA will increase by up to 5.9% starting in Jan 2022) is before Congress right now, we now have a Congress that can't manage to get anything, even when it's got 80% or 90% support, done,  If that offends you as much as it does me, don't vote for incumbent Republicans next time (but the progressive Democrats would be a good choice).

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AARP Expert

Thank you for your comment, @dt324. We encourage policymakers to work together so that Social Security's long-term financial health is maintained. 

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Contributor

I agree completely. Medicare premiums, Part B supplemental insurance, Plan D, and co-pays and deductibles, cost us between 20-25% of our social security income. Then they tax us on that income! We pay way more for health care as retirees than we did as employees. I think the whole Medicare system is a bad joke, and don’t get me started on how confusing they make it. It’s just plain crazy. I was looking forward to retirement until I learned what health care was going to cost us. And I naively thought Medicare was going to take care of us. I am so discouraged.

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Regular Contributor

With a rent increase (leasing home), inflation in food and gas, rising prices for pet supplies, and a deplorable income tax rate for a senior on fixed income, the SSA increase ($144 per month) will be welcome but just barely leave me where I am right now (stressed and practically in poverty, so just one day at a time here).

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AARP Expert

I hear you, @dt324  I've noticed higher prices at the grocery store and at the gas pump, especially in the last few months. Even prices for my kitty's food have gone up, although she's worth every penny I spend on her! Hopefully when these supply chain challenges get resolved prices will improve for all of us.

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Regular Contributor

Very sorry to read about the travails everyone else is experiencing.  I'm 70.5 and all I can attest is that if you're healthy with no prescriptions, the system works just fine (because it's costing basically nothing for you to be a member).  I know I'm very partially subsidizing a bunch of others who really need these benefits, and that's OK with me (might be their turn to reciprocate someday) because I'm still in good health with no drugs (just alternate day vitamin supplement and morning coffee plus plenty of fruits and vegetables - not a vegan, just that meat and dairy are not the mainstays of my diet but more like occasional treats).

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AARP Expert

@dt324, we're very happy to hear you are in good health, which takes on greater importance as we get older. I also like a good cup of java in the morning.

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Community Manager
Community Manager

Good morning and welcome. Thank you for being here. Let's get started by having Jim and Joel tell us what the recent COLA means to Social Security recipients.

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AARP Expert

The short answer is that for a worker earning the average amount of Social Security benefits, the 5.9% increase results in an extra $90 in your bank account every month in 2022. The idea behind this adjustment is that you don’t lose spending power as the cost of goods increases. Of course, given how volatile the cost of certain goods has been since the start of the pandemic, and what you individually spend your money on, this may not be enough to keep pace with the higher costs. Without getting too in the weeds, this increase reflects the changes in costs of a variety of goods and services from October 2020 to October 2021, so whether it will truly keep pace if prices continue to rise in 2022 is a bit of an open question because we don’t have any ability to accurately forecast what things will look like over the next 12-14 months.

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Contributor

Given the increase in Medicare premium isn’t this just about a wash?

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AARP Expert

@ss1867 and @st9155, thank you for your questions. Medicare premiums for 2022 have not been officially announced, and that news is expected in November. For the roughly three in four Medicare Part B recipients whose premiums are deducted straight from their Social Security benefit payments, that could mean a reduction but it is unlikely to swallow your entire cost-of-living adjustment, as it has done in previous years. Experts are anticipating an increase around $10 a month for Part B premiums, and if the average increase in monthly benefits is $90, then you would only see a slight decrease in your take-home benefits.

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Newbie

Do we yet know what the increase in the Medicare premium is?

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AARP Expert

@st9155 Thanks for your question. We don't know what the standard Medicare Part B premium will be in 2022. The announcement will be made in November.

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Newbie

If we're getting almost 6% more in Social Security, you can bet that our Medicare premums will go up substantially - hopefully, not so much that we won't even know we received an increase!

 

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AARP Expert

@gardenparty Yes! Definitely something to keep a watch on in November.

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