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Paynesville Press - October 22, 2003

Social Security announces 2.1 percent benefit increase

Monthly Social Security benefits - and Supplemental Social Security benefits - for more than 51 million Americans will increase by 2.1 percent in 2004, the Social Security Administration announced last week.

Social Security benefits increase automatically each year based on the rise in the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers from the third quarter of the prior year to the corresponding period of the current year.

The 2.1 percent cost-of-living adjustment will begin with benefits that 47 Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2004. Increased payments to seven million Supplemental Social Security Income beneficiaries will begin on Dec. 31, 2003.

Some other changes that take effect 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 minimum) will increase to $87,900 from $87,000 in 2003. Of the estimated 156 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2004, about 9.2 million will pay higher taxes as a result of the increase in the taxable minimum in 2004.

Information about Medicare changes for 2004 can be found at

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