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BusinessColumnistsCarrie Mason-Draffen

Social Security can go up if you keep working while collecting

Your monthly Social Security benefit could increase if

Your monthly Social Security benefit could increase if you continue working after starting to collect benefits, an expert says. Photo Credit: Your monthly Social Security benefit could increase if you continue working after starting to collect benefits, an expert says.

DEAR CARRIE: I filed for Social Security benefits at age 67. But I still work. Will my Social Security payments increase?


DEAR MORE: Your benefits could well increase, said Linda Lauria, a spokeswoman in the Social Security Administration’s Manhattan office.

“The Social Security Administration annually examines each beneficiary’s record to see if additional earnings increase the monthly benefit amount,” Lauria said. “If an increase is due, the higher benefit is paid automatically and is effective [the] January following the year in which the wages were earned,” Lauria said.

And she added, “The beneficiary does not need to ask SSA to recalculate his benefit.”

DEAR CARRIE: Can I collect Social Security disability and long-term disability at the same time? My neighbor, who had a hip replacement years ago, says no. — NEIGHBOR KNOWS?

DEAR NEIGHBOR: I don’t want to sow enmity between you and your neighbor, but her answer was incorrect. You can collect at the same time, but you may face a reduction in your long-term disability benefits. Still, it’s not an either-or situation, as your neighbor contends.

Here’s how it works: When applicants receive Social Security disability benefits, their long-term disability insurance provider may limit their claim payout to just the difference between their Social Security disability benefit and their total insurance claim amount.

So put another way, long-term disability payments have no effect on Social Security disability benefits, but the reverse may not be true, Lauria said.

You should review your long-term disability policy to verify what your insurer’s terms are when Social Security disability comes into play.

It’s worth noting that workers’ compensation benefits do affect a beneficiary’s Social Security disability payments, which may be reduced because of the workers’ comp benefits, Lauria said.

DEAR CARRIE: I am on Social Security and have not gotten a raise in two years. What gives? Everything has gone up, except for my benefits. What can I do to get a raise? — Stagnant Benefit

DEAR STAGNANT: The reason you haven’t gotten a raise is simple: No inflation, at least according to the government’s official measure.

Since 1975, Social Security raises have been based on increases in the cost of living, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, Lauria said. Monthly Social Security benefits have not increased in 2016 because consumer prices were down in 2015, the agency said in a news release late last year.

These cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs, help Social Security benefits keep pace with inflation. The Social Security Act provides for the automatic increases when the CPI increases. If the index doesn’t increase, neither do the benefits.

By the way, the Consumer Price Index, which is compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, tracks over time the changes in prices that consumers pay for certain goods and services.

Before this year, the last time Social Security recipients didn’t receive an increase because of low inflation was in 2010 and 2011, according to an online Social Security Administration chart of the history of cost-of-living adjustments. And the increases in 2013, 2014 and 2015 were all under 2 percent. Maybe that’s why you feel as if you haven’t gotten a raise in two years.

The largest increase of the last six years was 2012’s 3.6 percent.

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