|What's New for 2010?|
Well, there’s good news and bad news.
Starting with the bad news-- there is no cost of living increase to the Social Security checks. With consumer prices down over the past year, monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits for more than 57 million Americans will not automatically increase in 2010. This will be the first year without an automatic Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) since they went into effect in 1975.
The good news is that even though Medicare Part B premiums are increasing by 15%, if your premium is taken right out of your check, you will not see a decrease in your benefit. Most Medicare beneficiaries will continue to pay the same $96.40 premium amount in 2010. Social Security law provides that any Medicare increase cannot cause a decrease in your check. As a result, 93% of Medicare beneficiaries will not be affected by the premium increase.
Only those Medicare beneficiaries who pay their premiums directly or those who are first eligible for Medicare benefits in 2010 will see the higher rate of $110.50 per month for their premiums. That figure is only those whose income is $85,000 or less ($170,000 or less for joint filers). For those in a higher income bracket, there are higher rates charged for premiums.
In 2010, the Maximum Taxable Earnings is the same as it was in 2009--$106,800 with no limit on the amount of Medicare tax withheld. To earn a quarter of coverage in 2010, you must earn $1,120 with a maximum of 4 quarters earned in a year ($4480 in earnings).
The Retirement Earnings Test Exempt Amount also remains the same in 2010 at $14,160 per year ($1,180 per month) for those under full retirement age and $37,680 a year ($3,140 per month) for those reaching their full retirement age in 2010.
Disability beneficiaries who work will see that the Substantial Gainful Activity Levels have increased to $1000 per month and $1,640 per month for blind beneficiaries. The Trial Work Period limit has been increased to $720 per month.
The SSI Federal Payment for individuals and couples has also stayed the same for 2010 at $674 and $1,011 per month.