Every year, the Social Security Administration takes a fresh look at its numbers and typically makes adjustments. Here are the basics for 2020 — what has changed, and what hasn't.
First, the basic percentages have not changed:
Employees and employers continue to pay 7.65% each, with the self-employed paying both halves.
The Medicare portion remains 1.45% on all earnings, with high earners continuing to pay an additional 0.9% in Medicare taxes.
The Social Security portion (OASDI) remains 6.20% on earnings up to the applicable taxable maximum amount — and that's what's changing:
Starting in 2020, the maximum taxable amount is $137,700, up from the 2019 maximum of $132,900. This actually affects relatively few workers; the Society for Human Resource Management notes in an article that only about 6% of employees earn more than the current taxable maximum.
Also changing is the retirement earnings test exempt amount. Those who have not yet reached normal retirement age but are collecting benefits will find the SSA withholding $1 in benefits for every $2 in earnings above a certain limit. That limit is $17,640 per year for 2019 and will be $18,240 for 2020. (See the SSA for additional information on how this works.)
Those collecting Social Security will see a slight increase in their checks: Social Security and Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries will receive a 1.6% COLA for 2020. This is based on the increase in the consumer price index from the third quarter of 2018 through the third quarter of 2019, according to the SSA.
A detailed fact sheet about the changes is available on the SSA site.