Elder Law

Will my benefit amount be the same for the rest of my life when I start receiving benefits?

Your benefit amount will not stay the same. Generally, the benefit amount increases each year and protects beneficiaries against inflation. Social Security provides an annual cost-of-living increase that is based on the consumer price index. The 2000 increase for beneficiaries was 2.4 percent. The 2001 increase will be known in October.

There is another way that your benefit might increase. When you work, you pay Social Security taxes. And because you pay these taxes, Social Security recalculates your benefits to take into account your extra earnings. If the worker`s earnings for the year are higher than the earnings that were used in the original benefit computation, Social Security substitutes the new year of earnings. The higher your earnings, the more your recalculated benefit might be.

The amount that your benefit will increase cannot be told because each case is different. Your lifetime earnings are used to recalculate your benefit. You do not need to take any special action. A recalculation of your benefits will be done automatically in the year following the close of the year in which you worked. Most recalculations are usually complete by September of the following year (remember, employers do not report your income until February 28). If you are entitled to a higher benefit, it is retroactive to January of the year after the year when you had the additional earnings.