Ask NAPCA Column #7

In this month’s column, we want to share what is new in social benefits in 2024. If you have additional questions about Medicare, Medicaid, Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Marketplace, Social Security Retirement Benefit, Supplemental Security Income, or COVID/Flu vaccination, there are 3 ways you can reach us today:
Call: (English) 1-800-336-2722, (Chinese Mandarin) 1-800-683-742, (Chinese Cantonese) 1-800-582-4218,
(Korean) 1-800-582-4259, (Vietnamese) 1-800-582-4336
Mail: NAPCA Senior Assistance Center, 1511 3rd Avenue, Suite 914, Seattle, WA 98101

Credits are based on your income for the year. Each year the amount of earnings needed to earn one credit goes up slightly as average wages increase. In 2024, you earn 1 Social Security and Medicare credit for every $1,730 in covered earnings. You must earn $6,920 to get the maximum of 4 credits for the year. You might work all year to earn 4 credits, or you might earn enough for all 4 in much less time. You must earn a certain number of credits to qualify for Social Security benefits. No one needs more than 40 credits for any Social Security benefits.

You can get SSI or Medicaid if you are qualified based on income and assets threshold by each state. One house and one car are exempt, but some life insurance is counted as an asset. The monthly maximum federal amounts for SSI in 2024 are $943 for an individual or $1,415 for a couple. Some states may provide SSP (State Supplementary Payment) on top of the federal standard. For example, if you live in California and have no income, the monthly maximum payment would be $1,182 for an individual, or $2,022 for a couple. If your income has been increased, it would reduce your SSI amount. Note that the SSA has a special rule to calculate income. The most accurate way to find out whether you are eligible or not is to submit the application and receive the eligibility result through the Social Security Administration. Please contact us if you have any questions.

You can get Social Security retirement or survivor benefits and work at the same time. However, there is a limit to how much you can earn and still receive full benefits.

  • If you are under full retirement age for the entire year, SSA deducts $1 from your benefit payments for every $2 you earn above the annual limit ($22,320 for 2024).
  • In the year you reach full retirement age:
  • Up to the month before you reach your full retirement age, SSA deducts $1 in benefits for every $3 you earn above a different limit ($59,520 for 2024).
  • Beginning with the month you reach full retirement age, your earnings no longer reduce your benefits, no matter how much you earn.
  • SSA will recalculate your benefit amount to give you credit for the months SSA reduced or withheld benefits due to your excess earnings.

COVID-19 activity is currently high. JN.1 is now the most widely circulating variant in the US and globally and may be intensifying the spread of COVID-19 this winter. COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths have increased in recent weeks. Hospitalizations reached 32,861 in the week ending January 13 2024. In that same period, deaths went up by 10.3%, with COVID-19 deaths accounting for 4.3% of total deaths in the US.

Current COVID-19 vaccines are expected to increase protection against JN.1.

As of January 13, 2024, only 21.5% of adults reported having received the updated COVID-19 vaccine. Only 40.9% of adults aged 65 years and older reported having received this vaccine, which is concerning given that they are at higher risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19.

Please make sure you have the most recent vaccine which has been available since late September 2023. If your last vaccine was in mid-September or earlier, get vaccinated. It’s not too late.

National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of AANHPI older adults and their families.  We operate a NAPCA Senior Assistance Center for Older Adults and Caregivers and is available in 5 different languages.

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