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Social Security hands out small cost of living adjustment for 2017

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Social Security hands out small cost of living adjustment for 2017
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Social Security recipients will get a small bump in their monthly checks next year.

But if you still have a few years left until you start collecting, we’ve got some strategies for you to maximize the monthly check you will eventually collect!

Read more: When’s the best time to take Social Security? Here’s how to find out …

Tiny COLA hike is coming

After a couple years of almost no inflation, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced a .3% increase in monthly payments going forward, according to a new press release.

It’s the smallest hike—in years when there is a hike at all—since the mid-1970s. Recipients have a slight firming up of the nation’s inflation to thank for the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in 2017. (Hikes generally come in relation to inflation; in years when there is no inflation, there is no increase in benefits.)

The average monthly Social Security check in December 2015 was $1,342, according to the SSA. So the .3% increase next year will be roughly an extra $5 in your check each month. That’s not a lot of money. But for the 47% of single elderly people who depend on that monthly check for 90% or more of their income, at least it’s something.

How can I beef up future checks before I start collecting Social Security?

If you have some time left before you start claiming your Social Security benefits, consider the following:

Play the waiting game

In the past, it was very common to retire and take Social Security at 62. But every year you wait after 62, you have an imputed return of 8% per year on your lifetime benefit. So if you wait from 62 to 70, the amount that Social Security pays climbs dramatically. (Benefits no longer increase after 70.)

Use an online calculator to help!

AARP’s interactive calculator allows you to pop in your specifics and it will give you a decision tree to help you figure out the optimal time to take Social Security. Check it out to help yourself or a parent.

If you are looking for a more comprehensive approach to give you specifics on when it would be best to start drawing on your Social Security benefits, check out Maximize my social security. There are different levels of analysis that you can choose, but $40 gives you access to sophisticated software that helps determine the best time to start receiving your checks. They also offer a money-back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied.

Boost your earnings today

What you get from Social Security has everything to do with your 35 highest earning years. So you might consider negotiating a raise or taking on a second job. Clark help you on the latter front. His Work from Home guide has legitimate ways you can earn some extra money. None of the sites listed will make you rich, but they will help you supplement your existing income.

Read more: Don’t give your Social Security number at these places!

Scam alert: Social Security Referendum

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo is director of content for clark.com. He has co-written 2 books with Clark Howard, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Clark Howard's Living Large in Lean Times.
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