U.S. News and World Report recently published an article noting that the Social Security Administration has promulgated the following new rules and features which take effect in 2013:

1.    The temporary payroll tax cut expired at the end of 2012.  That means that workers who previously paid 4.2% of their income into Social Security have resumed paying 6.2% of their earnings in 2013, up to the cap of $113,700 in earnings.

2.    The increase in the payroll cap to $113,700, means workers who earn more than this amount, will not pay social security taxes on any wage earned above $113,700.

3.    Social Security is offering more on-line services.  It is now possible to do the following on-line:   claim your Social Security payments, check your Social Security statements, get an estimate of your Social Security monthly benefit amount, change your address, or change direct-deposit information.  For many people, this eliminates any need to actually make an appointment at a local Social Security office.

4.    Social Security offices are reducing the number of hours they are open each week.  Social Security offices have been closing 30 minutes earlier each weekday since November 19, 2012, and beginning January 2, 2013, all offices are closing to the public at noon every Wednesday.

5.    As of March 1, 2013, the Treasury will no longer mail paper checks to Social Security Recipients.  Social Security will require that all payments be directly deposited into a bank or credit union account, or onto a prepaid Direct Express Debit MasterCard.  The MasterCard option is available for benefit recipients who do not have a bank account.

6.    Individuals who take early retirement benefits (people between the ages of 62 and 66) and who continue to work can now earn up to $15,120 in 2013 before benefits are withheld.  After you earn $15,120, Social Security will withhold $1 in benefits for every $2 you earn.  If you turn 66 in 2013, you can earn up to $40,080 before Social Security with withhold $1 in benefits for every $3 earned.

7.    Social Security recipients did receive a small cost-of-living increase for 2013.  The average Social Security benefit increased by $21 per month over the monthly amount each recipient received in 2012

Leslie A. Mitnick is a member of Stark & Stark’s Yardley, PA office, concentrating in Accident & Personal Injury Law. For more information, please contact Ms. Mitnick.