Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) in 2021
Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) checks will increase by 1.3% for cost of living in 2021. The purpose of the COLA is to ensure that beneficiaries’ purchasing power is not eroded by inflation. The COLA is based on the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers (CPI-W), which is determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If there is no increase in CPI-W, there is no COLA for Social Security benefits, even though health care costs may be likely to increase. Automatic annual COLAs were authorized by the U.S. Congress in 1972 and began in 1975.
2021 Maximum Taxable Earnings
The maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax is $142,800.
Earnings Limit Increase
The earnings limit is $18,960 for Social Security beneficiaries who retire before their full retirement age. Social Security deducts $1 from benefits for each $2 of earnings above the limit, or $18,960 in 2021. If Social Security withholds part of your benefits because you continue to work, you will receive a higher monthly benefit amount when you reach full retirement age. There is no limit on the earnings of beneficiaries who have attained full retirement age.
When to Retire and Start Receiving Social Security Benefits?
Generally, the longer you delay receiving Social Security benefits, the higher your monthly benefit amount will be. An individual who begins receiving retirement benefits early at age 62, will receive only about 70-75% of the full retirement monthly benefit amount for his or her lifetime. The age for full retirement benefits is as follows:
|Year of Birth||Retirement Age|
|Up to 1937||65|
|1938||65 + 2 months|
|1939||65 + 4 months|
|1940||65 + 6 months|
|1941||65 + 8 months|
|1942||65 + 10 months|
|1955||66 + 2 months|
|1956||66 + 4 months|
|1957||66 + 6 months|
|1958||66 + 8 months|
|1959||66 + 10 months|
|1960 or later||67|
Delayed Retirement Credits
If an individual delays taking retirement benefits until after reaching full retirement age, the monthly benefit amount that he or she is entitled to receive is increased by 5.5% to 8% per year depending on birth year. For example, if you were born in 1943 or later and you delay taking benefits until after full retirement age, your monthly benefit is increased by 8% for each year you delay retiring up to age 70. After you reach age 70, the monthly benefit amount is not increased further, even if you continue to delay taking benefits.
|Year of Birth||Yearly Increase||Monthly Increase|
|1933 – 1934||5.5%||11/24 of 1%|
|1935 – 1936||6%||1/2 of 1%|
|1937 – 1938||6.5%||13/24 of 1%|
|1939 – 1940||7%||7/12 of 1%|
|1941 – 1942||7.5%||5/8 of 1%|
|1943 or later||8%||2/3 of 1%|