Recent changes could alter how much you receive from Social Security next year — and now is the time to see how you may be affected.
The Social Security Administration unveiled its annual cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, for 2018 in October. The 2 percent increase for next year marks a significant jump over last year, which was just 0.3 percent. It's also the biggest change since 2012, when older Americans saw a 3.6 percent raise.
The change means that the average monthly Social Security benefit will increase by approximately $25 for 66 million recipients.
At the same time, the standard monthly premium for Medicare Part B will stay at $134 for 2018.
A "hold harmless" provision prevents a majority of retirees from having their Social Security benefits decrease due to any increase in Medicare premiums. The provision affects those who have their Medicare premiums deducted directly from their Social Security checks.
Yet most retirees will still not see an increase in their checks next year, according to The Senior Citizens League, as that extra $25 from the COLA adjustment would be applied to the difference between their monthly check and the Part B cost.
Information on your individual benefit is available online. The actual changes will take effect in January.
To view your statement or to create an online account, visit SocialSecurity.gov/reviewyourstatement.
You can still benefit from checking your online record, even if you have not started collecting benefits and have plenty of time before you do so.
Your statement will include payment estimates based on the age you start taking benefits. You also want to look at your earnings record in your online profile.
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.
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 at least 60 years old and who do not have an online account.