Are Social Security Benefits Changing In 2021?

Chances are you’ve seen an advertisement or some sort of article talking about how Social Security benefits will be changing in 2021. Usually, these articles have a very dramatic headline, such as “After 2021, you’ll never be able to get as much benefits from Social Security! Act Now!” – followed by information to attend a seminar or contact a firm to help you out.

I understand a lot of folks are concerned about this, but I believe it’s misguided concern brought about by sensationalists who have something to sell. The truth is that the much ballyhoo’d changes in 2021 have been in place since 1983, and nothing you can do will avoid the application of these rules.

The Rule Change

In 1983, Congress made changes to the way Social Security works, in order to increase the probability of the system maintaining solvency. This was brought about by the crisis situation that was occurring in 1982, which was the last time Social Security’s trust fund was in danger of running short of money (as has been projected to occur 2035, per the 2019 Social Security Trust Fund Report).

At that time, the Full Retirement Age (FRA) for Social Security beneficiaries was 65. This had been the FRA since the inception of the system, and had been in place for approximately 50 years at that point. In order to help the system out, FRA was gradually increased over time. 

It started with folks who were born in 1938 – who were 45 years old in 1983. FRA increased by 2 months for these folks, and increased by another two months for the following birth years up to the birth years of 1943 thru 1954. The FRA for these folks was set at 66 years. Beginning with birth year 1955, FRA is increased again by 2 months. For each subsequent birth year after that, FRA is increased by another 2 months, until it reaches 67 for folks born in 1960 or later.

In 2021, the first people born in 1955 will be reaching their FRA – which for the first time in 11 years has increased. These people reach FRA at age 66 years and 2 months. But this isn’t new! These rules have been in place since 1983.

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