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SSA benefits will increase average of 1.7 percent in 2013

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Q: When will the new Social Security amounts for 2013 be received?

A: During October, the Social Security Administration announced that monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for nearly 62 million Americans will increase 1.7 percent in 2013.

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This cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) begins with Social Security benefits received in January 2013.

Increased SSI payments begin on Dec. 31. Overall, benefits will increase by the COLA amount. Since the exact computation is more complex, some individual variation will occur.

Q: What is the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) based on?

A: The COLA is based on the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) from the third quarter of the last year a COLA was determined to the third quarter of the current year.

If there is no increase in the CPI-W Consumer Price Index, there can be no COLA.

Q: What will the Medicare Part B (Medical) premium be for 2013?

A: As of this writing, this is unknown. When announced by Medicare, information for 2013 will be at www.medicare.gov. Unlike the Social Security COLA, the CPI-W plays no part in the computation of the Medicare Part B premium.

The Medicare

Part B premium changes each year, if necessary, so that the Part B premium is

sufficient to fund approximately 25 percent of the projected cost of the Part B

program. Any premium change is effective in January.

For some people, their Social Security increase may be partially or completely offset by increases in Medicare premiums.

Did You Know? Other changes related to Social Security will automatically

take place in January, including changes to the annual earnings test and amounts of earnings subject to Social Security tax (FICA). Learn about them at www.socialsecurity.gov.

Based in Grand Forks, Howard I. Kossover is the Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for North Dakota and western Minnesota. Send general interest questions to him at howard.kossover@ssa.gov. Read his online articles at socialsecurityinfo.areavoices.com.

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