After benefits for 2016 saw no increase, Social Security benefits are set to rise by 0.3 percent in 2017. The current average benefit check is $1305.30 per month. The 0.3 percent increase will mean that the average benefit check will only receive an increase of $3.92 per month.

The amount of the increase is meant to reflect changes in the cost of living from year to year. The specific index that Social Security uses to measure the cost changes is the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, or CPI-W. The CPI-W is meant to reflect the expenses of the average household.

One major factor that has kept increases low over the past couple of years is low gas prices. This can be problematic since retired individuals generally drive less than people who commute to work regularly. As a result, the benefits of lower gas prices tend to have less of an impact for those receiving Social Security.

The expected increases in Medicare premiums, however, are likely to be greater than the monthly increase in Social Security benefits. Current retirees and other Social Security beneficiaries should take a fresh look at their options to see if their current plans are still the most cost effective for their current needs. For those who are not yet at retirement age, steps should be taken, if possible, to develop resources for retirement that go beyond Social Security benefits.

Please call Martha C. Brown & Associates at (314) 962-0186 to see if your current plan still meets your needs for retirement.