Social Security Commissioner
Jo Anne B. Barnhart
Announces 1.4 Percent Social Security Increase
(aquí en Español)
Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
benefits to more than 50 million Americans will increase 1.4 percent
in 2003, Jo Anne B. Barnhart, Commissioner of Social Security announced
"Today’s news tells us that inflation continues to be low,
which is certainly good news for the elderly and disabled,"
said Commissioner Barnhart. "Inflation is one of the biggest
challenges for people living on a fixed income. The annual Cost-of-Living
Adjustment (COLA) ensures that a person's monthly benefit doesn't
drop in value over time."
The 1.4 percent increase will begin with benefits that 46 million
Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2003. Increased
payments to 7 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31.
Social Security and SSI benefits increase automatically each year
based on the rise in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners
and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) from the third quarter of the prior
year to the corresponding period of the current year. This year's
increase in the CPI-W was 1.4 percent.
Some other changes that take effect in January of each year are
based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase,
the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax
(taxable maximum) will increase to $87,000 from $84,900 in 2002.
As a result of the increase in the taxable maximum in 2003, the
maximum yearly Social Security tax paid by employees and employers
will increase by $130.20 each for a total of $5394.00. For self-employed
workers, it will rise by $260.40 to a total of $10,788.00. Of the
approximately 155 million workers who pay Social Security taxes,
about 9.7 million are affected by the higher wage base in 2003.
Information about Medicare changes for 2003 can be found at www.hhs.gov
– The Internet site for the Department of Health and Human Services.
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NOTE TO CORRESPONDENTS: A fact
sheet showing the effect of the various automatic adjustments
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