The new year has begun, and with it, some tweaks and changes have been made to Social Security that its beneficiaries may notice. Here’s a look at what you can expect if you’re a beneficiary in 2018:
- A higher tax cap. Workers will now contribute 6.2 percent of their earnings to Social Security until their income exceeds $128,700 (up an extra $1,500 compared to 2017’s $127,200).
- Bigger payments. Beneficiaries can expect to see an average monthly payment increase of $27, upping the total to $1,404. Couples who both receive payments will see their payment increase $46, to a total of $2,340.
- An older full retirement age. To claim full benefits, people who turn 62 in 2018 will need to wait. The full retirement age for those born in 1956 is now 66 years and four months old.
- Paperless statements. In 2017, the Social Security Administration stopped mailing paper statements to everyone under the age of 60. In 2018, they’ll stop using paper statements altogether. You will need to create an online Social Security account to check your earnings and future benefits.
- Larger earnings limits. If you work and collect Social Security, you will earn slightly more in 2018 before part or all your benefits are withheld. Those who are younger than their full retirement age can earn $17,040 this year, up $120 from 2017.
- Boosted security. To log in to your My Social Security account, you will now need two-factor authentication (2FA), which sends a unique, one-time security code to your mobile phone or email address that you will need to enter each time you log in.
What do all these changes mean for you? As a Wealth Management firm in San Jose, CA, we can help. Give us a call at (408)227-2700 and we can assist in getting you more familiar with the new Social Security changes.
Indian Curry with Chicken and Peas
Forget takeout. With this quick 15-minute meal, you can create your own dinner that’s faster and easier than visiting that Indian restaurant down the road.
- 1 small yellow onion
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- Kosher salt
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1-pound chicken tenders
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 1/2 cup full-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 4 pieces naan bread, warmed
- Place a large straight-sided skillet over medium-high heat. While the pan heats up, finely chop the onion, about 1 heaping cup.
- Add the canola oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Add the onion and a large pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned – about 3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, finely grate the garlic into the tomato paste and add to the onions along with the curry powder, garam masala, and 1/4 cup water.
- Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in the chicken stock and bring to a strong simmer.
- Cut the chicken tenders in half crosswise, sprinkle liberally with salt and stir into the sauce. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is just cooked through – about 5 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to a low simmer and stir in the peas and 1/4 cup yogurt. Cook until the peas are just warmed through – about 1 minute.
- Season to taste with additional salt if needed. Divide among 4 bowls. Top each with the remaining yogurt and serve with warm naan bread.
Recipe adapted from the Food Network
Tips for the Sharing Economy
Do you rent a spare room in your house, provide car rides for a fee, or earn money from other nontraditional arrangements? You may be a part of the sharing economy. And if you made any income from such platforms, you have some key financial details to address when filing your taxes.
Is the income taxable?
Yes. No matter if you made money part or full-time, the IRS taxes the income you make. This rule applies if you received payments in cash or if you received a return such as Form 1099 or Form W2.
Can you take deductions?
Some business expense deductions may apply for taxpayers who qualify. A deduction for a business expense could be an item such as claiming the standard mileage rate if you use your car for business.
Do taxes apply if you rent a home you also live in?
You will generally have to account for specific tax rules if you rent a home that you live in at any point throughout the year, called the “Residential Rental Property” (including “Rental of Vacation Homes”). You can identify the status of taxable rental income using the IRS tax assistant tool.
Other factors do apply, and you can learn more on the IRS website. You can also explore the agency’s Sharing Economy Tax Center to understand other tax details that may affect what you owe or the steps you need to take.
Tip courtesy of IRS.gov
Weight Transfer: Swing from the Ground Up!
To get the best weight transfer on your swings, you must first get the right “feel”.
Typical high-handicap amateur golfers start their downswings with their hands, then arms, then shoulders. This causes a loss of power and creates a plethora of swing ailments. To counteract this, get a large medicine ball (15-30 lbs.), or another heavy item you can toss. This will force you to involve your bigger, stronger muscles. Now, follow these directions:
- Pick up heavy item and get into your normal golf stance.
- Now, start your swing and try to fully turn your back to your target. This is critical in creating power and keeping your swing on plane.
- Once you’ve turned your back to the target, transition from your backswing to your follow-through, like you would a normal golf shot.
- As you finish your “swing” facing your target, toss the object as far as you can while keeping your balance.
- Continue to repeat these steps as needed and remember to always start at a lower weight and work your way up to avoid injury.
This tip will make it almost impossible to use your arms as your source of power, giving you the sense that your arms and body are working together, instead of on their own. This is what it means to “swing from the ground up”!
Tip adapted from Golf Tips Magazine
Stave Off Colds with Garlic and Onion
Keep the cold and other viruses away by eating garlic and onion in your meals. Adding raw or lightly cooked garlic or onion to your meals can give a boost to your immunity system!
Both foods are known to possess antiviral and antibacterial properties; keeping you safer from illnesses this winter.
Wellness tip adapted from Whole Living
Tips to Help You Recycle Plastic Items
Recycling the plastic containers we use can do a lot to help minimize landfill and environmental waste, since plastic doesn’t decompose like organic materials. From beverage bottles to vegetable containers and more; a variety of plastic can find its way into your home. As you recycle your plastic items, here are some key details to keep in mind.
- Styrofoam Pickup: Many recycling centers don’t do curbside pickup for specific types of plastic, such as Styrofoam. But, they may recycle the item if you drop it off at their center. You can typically call ahead to find out what options are available for you.
- Big Box Recycling Support: Grocery stores and retail chains (and other shopping locations) often have recycling drop-offs for items that your recycling center doesn’t pick up. Check your local stores when shopping to identify what items they take.
- Cleaned Plastic: Cleaning out your plastic before sending it off to recycle is a good habit, even if your local recycling center doesn’t require you to do so. This step will deter mold from growing and may keep animals from scavenging the items.
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