Benefits to Increase 1.7 Percent in 2013

Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for nearly 62 million Americans will increase 1.7 percent in 2013.

The 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits that more than 56 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2013. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2012.

The maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $113,700 from $110,100. Of the estimated 163 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2013, nearly 10 million will pay higher taxes based on the increase in the taxable maximum.

Learn more about the COLA and resulting changes by reading the press release and fact sheet at www.socialsecurity.gov/pressoffice/pr/2013cola-pr.html.

The ARC Recognizes Commissioner Astrue for his Commitment to Serving People with Disabilities

The Arc, one of the largest charitable organizations in the United States that serves and advocates for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, presented its 2012 President's Award to Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue. The Arc honored Commissioner Astrue for his steadfast commitment to people with disabilities during his six-year tenure as Commissioner. To learn more, please read the press release at www.socialsecurity.gov/pressoffice/pr/2012-presidents-award.html.

Get a Head Start on Retirement

If you have clients who plan to retire early in 2013, now is the time to apply for Social Security benefits. People can apply as early as four months before they want benefits to start. The most convenient way to apply is online at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline.

Applying online for Social Security benefits means there is no need to visit a Social Security office or wait for a scheduled appointment with a Social Security representative. Retiring online can take as little as 15 minutes. There are no forms to sign and, in most cases, no documents to submit. Tell your clients to go online to apply for benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline.

Open Season for Medicare Prescription Drug Program

The current open season for enrollment in the Medicare prescription drug program runs from October 15 to December 7. Newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries who want to enroll, and current beneficiaries who are considering changes to their Medicare plan, can do so now.

The Medicare prescription drug program is available to all Medicare beneficiaries to help with the costs of medications. Joining a Medicare prescription drug plan is voluntary, and participants pay an additional monthly premium for the coverage

While all Medicare beneficiaries can participate in the prescription drug program, some people with limited income and resources also are eligible for Extra Help to pay for monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments. The Extra Help is estimated to be worth an average of $4,000 per year. Learn more about applying online for the Extra Help at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10525.html.

Learn more about Medicare at www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/medicare.htm.

Individuals who don't have prescription drug coverage may also be able to get help in obtaining the medicines they need for free or nearly free by contacting the Partnership for Prescription Assistance at www.pparx.org. This organization offers a single point of access to more than 475 public and private programs, including nearly 200 offered by pharmaceutical companies.

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