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Social Security Q&A

There Are Other Changes in 2014 for Social Security Beneficiaries Along with COLA Increase

When do you get your COLA for 2014?; what else changes next year

Dec. 23, 1013 – Senior citizens in Social Security do get a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase in 2014 but there are other changes in the program, too, that are detailed by Oscar Garcia, Informational Specialist with the Social Security Administration, in this week's Q&A on Social Security. He also explains when you can receive spousal benefits, while spouse receives benefits, too.


Do I receive the cost of living increase for my retirement benefit with the payment in December?


The 1.5 percent COLA begins with increased benefits for Social Security beneficiaries in January 2014, and payments to SSI recipients in late December 2013.

The estimated average monthly Social Security payment to a retired worker is $1,294 (in 2014), up from $1,275 (in 2013). The average monthly Social Security disability payment for an individual is $1,148 (in 2014), up from $1,131 (in 2013). The basic monthly federal payment for SSI is $721 (in 2014), up from $710 (in 2013).


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Read more Social Security News

also check Medicare and Senior Politics


Some other changes that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. For example, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security payroll tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $117,000, up from $113,700. Of the estimated 165 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2014, about 10 million will pay higher taxes as a result of the increase in the taxable maximum. 

The amount of earnings needed for one credit of Social Security coverage has gone up as well, but all workers can still earn up to four credits in a year. In 2014, a worker earns a credit after earning $1,200. In 2013, one credit of coverage was $1,160. It takes forty credits to be fully insured for retirement benefits. Visit to learn more about the COLA and other Social Security changes in 2014.


I am 63 years old and my spouse is 64 years old. He receives Social Security, but I do not.  Do I have the option right now of receiving spousal benefits from him in order to preserve my benefits until I am 66 or even 70, or does that only apply if I am full retirement age?


You would have to wait until you are full retirement age in order to receive the spousal benefit and still be able to preserve your own benefit. If you apply for Social Security benefits before you reach full retirement age, you have to receive the highest benefit possible.  This means we would check your entitlement on your own record as well as the spousal benefit.   

You would not have the choice of taking the lesser benefit as a spouse and delaying your own retirement benefit until up to age 70.  You only have that option if you are at full retirement age when you apply for benefits. If you wait until full retirement age, then you can receive 50% of your spouse’s full benefit amount. 

You can wait on your own retirement anytime between full retirement age and age 70. This would allow you to earn the delayed retirement credits on top of your full benefit amount. It is always a good idea to contact Social Security to learn about your benefit options. 

Oscar Garcia is a Public Affairs Specialist with the Social Security Administration. You can direct your questions to him at: SSA, 411 Richland Hills Drive, San Antonio, Texas, 78245. You can also email him at


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