7 changes to Social Security in 2018

(FOX NEWS) -- Social Security can be called the most important social program in the United States. As of August, 61.5 million people were receiving benefits and more than 42 million of those folks were retired workers. Many of these retired workers -- 62% to be exact -- count on their monthly stipend from the Social Security Administration (SSA) for at least half of their income.

Put plainly, there's no more important time of the year for Social Security beneficiaries than mid-October. You see, in mid-October, the SSA announces its annual changes to Social Security. Just as the U.S. economy isn't static, neither are the payment, tax, and qualifying guidelines that are tethered to Social Security. With the SSA releasing its adjustments this past week, let's take a look at the seven biggest changes to Social Security in 2018.

Make no mistake about it, the headline figure that everyone's been waiting for is now known, thanks to the release of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' September inflation data. In 2018, Social Security beneficiaries will receive a 2% cost-of-living adjustment Opens a New Window. (COLA). While that may not sound like much -- it works out to about $27 more a month for the average retired worker -- it's actually the best inflationary increase we've seen in six years.

If you're looking to send a thank you card for the increase, don't. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which shut down refineries and drilling platforms and were responsible for pushing gas prices higher by 6% in August and 13% in September, are wholly responsible for pushing inflation higher during the third quarter. The average inflation reading from the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) is the tether used to calculate inflation for Social Security.

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