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Check in December to learn how big your 2018 Social Security check will be

Key Points
  • You will be able to see how a cost-of-living adjustment affects your Social Security payment come December.
  • Establishing or logging into an online Social Security account can provide you with estimates of future benefits.
  • You should also check the accuracy of your earnings history.
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Retirees who want to know how much their Social Security cost-of-living adjustment will change their benefits should check their online statements come December.

The Social Security Administration unveiled its cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, for 2018 earlier this month. The 2 percent increase for next year marks a significant jump over last year, which was just 0.3 percent, and the biggest change since 2012, when older Americans saw a 3.6 percent raise.

More information on how the COLA will affect individual benefits will be available in December,. The actual changes will be in checks starting in January, according to a Social Security Administration spokesman. The average monthly benefit is expected to increase by $25.

Medicare premiums could offset that increase for about 70 percent of retirees, according to The Senior Citizens League. A "hold harmless" provision protects certain retirees from having their Social Security benefits reduced by an increase in Medicare premiums. That's because covering the cost of any Medicare increases can wipe out any boost from Social Security.

All workers can benefit from checking their benefits online, even if they have not started collecting and have plenty of time before they do so.

The statements provide payment estimates based on the age you start taking benefits. Online profiles also include your earnings record.

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The Social Security Administration recommends that individuals check these records annually to make sure their earnings history is correct. If it needs to be adjusted, you are encouraged to submit records including a W-2 form, tax return and other documents verifying your wages and place of employment. The agency will then work to verify and correct the information.

To view your statement online or to create an account, visit

The system will prompt you to verify your identity in two ways: your username and password and a security code sent to you via text message or email. The new verification process was added in June to better protect accounts from fraud or unauthorized access, according to the Social Security Administration.

The agency mails statements to those who are 60 yearsold and above and who do not have an online account.

Those who establish an account online should receive an annual email to check their record around the time of their birthday.

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