January 21, 2022

Social Security and Healthcare Changes for 2022 and Beyond

As we kick off 2022, there are some changes related to Social Security and Medicare that you should know about, along with some insight into the future.

SOCIAL SECURITY

Here are some highlights of the most sweeping changes facing Social Security applicants in 2022 and beyond:

  • If you already receive Social Security benefits, you will receive a 5.9% COLA increase on your monthly Social Security benefit. This attractive increase is somewhat offset by the increase in part B premiums
  • To earn the maximum of 4 credits in 2022, you need to earn $6,040 or $1,510 per quarter
  • Maximum taxable salary base is $147,000
  • If you turn 62 in 2022, your full retirement age will go to 67
  • If you turn 62 in 2022 and claim benefits, your monthly benefit will be reduced by 30% of your full retirement age
  • If you choose to work before you reach full retirement age and receive benefits, the annual income limit is $19,560. In the year you reach full retirement age, that threshold will be $51,960 in 2022. At full retirement age, this limitation will disappear!
  • The maximum deduction from the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) for 2022 is $512
  • If you are applying for Social Security in 2022, keep in mind that additional planning may be required if you have an HSA

If you haven’t already, make your own “my social security account” Bee ssa.gov. This allows you to view your income history and estimate your expected future payout. The closer you are to retirement, the more accurate the expected benefit. If you do not do this and you turn 60, you will receive an annual benefit overview by post.

MEDICINE

Here are some highlights of the most impactful Medicare changes in 2022:

  • Medicare Part B premium goes up $21.60 to $170.10
  • The annual deductible for all Medicare Part B beneficiaries is $233 in 2022, an increase of $30 from the annual deductible of $203 in 2021

Since Social Security includes a number of social elements, the higher your income, the more you will pay for Medicare. It is called the “Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount” or IRMAA. The IRMAA adjustment, which is recalculated annually, affects Medicare Part B and D and is based on income from your income tax return two years earlier. The 2022 adjustment is based on your 2020 income tax return. The threshold when IRMAA comes into play in 2022 is $91,000 for singles and $182,000 for a married couple. It is calculated on what is called “Adjusted Gross Income,” which is specific to Medicare. You can appeal the IRMAA adjustment if you had a “life-changing event” as defined by the Social Security Administration.

THE FUTURE

We’ve all read the stories about the viability of Social Security. Social Security Won’t Go Bankrupt. According to the law, social security can only pay out what it collects and/or from existing reserves. The reserves built up over many, many years because more people contributed than Social Security collects are now being spent to pay current benefits. The reserve will be exhausted by 2033-2034. In the absence of reforms, the current law dictates a 24% cut in benefits, for everyone. Aging baby boomers, rising life expectancy and fewer people contributing to the system are all contributing to Social Security problems. Most experts say Congress will make the necessary reforms. We’ve all been reading for a while that Congress should make these reforms sooner rather than later. Given that Social Security is the largest compulsory item of expenditure for the federal government, you would think that this reform would set a greater precedent. The longer this rhetoric continues, the more skeptical I become. For me, I plan to take the 24% discount. If Congress solves the problems, that’s the icing on the cake, and I won’t be disappointed.

In addition to the reforms needed to strengthen Social Security going forward, there seems to be more talk lately about changing or abolishing the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). This is not a new initiative; it just gets more attention now.

CONCLUSION

This article discusses the changes for 2022. While most people apply at age 62 and the last filing date is age 70, you have an 8-year window to apply for Social Security benefits. A longer life expectancy usually translates into a longer pension. There are good and bad reasons for submitting sooner or later. There are no rules of thumb to determine the best claim strategy. You only have one chance to make the right decision for you and your partner (if you have one). Social Security benefits usually replace about 40% of your pre-retirement income. Don’t make your submission date based on emotion. If your cash flow is good and you have a spouse, you may be affected by the WEP or Government Pension Offset (GPO), your health is good and you can decide to work until your full retirement age. Contact an expert to prepare various claims strategies for you to review. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that the best strategy for you will increase your total lifetime benefits by a whopping $200,000.

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