The Social Security Administration tells us the Cost of Living increase for 2015 is a mere 1.7 percent—one of smallest increases since the program started. That's because cost-of-living (COLA) increases are tied to the Consumer Price Index, which has been hovering near historic lows.
Social Security 2015: no major changes
So if your monthly check in 2014 was the average amount of $1,306, you should now be getting a monthly check of $1,328. The average benefit for retired couples who are both receiving benefits has increased by $36 to $2,176 per month.
Some other changes for 2015:
• Higher amount of taxable earnings
The amount of annual earnings that can be taxed will increase from $117,000 in 2014 to $118,500. (The tax rate remains at 7.65% for employees and 15.30% for the self-employed.)
• Higher maximum amount
If you retire at "full retirement age," the maximum benefit you can receive has risen from $2,642 a month in 2014 to $2,663 a month in 2015. (Your full retirement age depends on when you were born. Check the Social Security Retirement Age Calculator.)
• Higher exempt income amount
If you're under full retirement age, the maximum annual amount you can earn without a reduction in benefits has risen from $15,480 in 2014 to $15,720 in 2015. But when you reach the age of 66, there is no limit on earnings, and Social Security payments are recalculated to give you credit for withheld benefits.
A surprise for some ex-spouses
U.S. News & World Report has a meaty article on 12 ways to maximize your Social Security income. One of them surprised the AskNelly staff: If you were married for at least 10 years, you can claim Social Security benefits based on an ex-spouse's work record. Read the full article.