With all eyes on the GOP’s sweeping plans for tax reform, it’s easy to lose sight of other policy changes that could have an impact on your wallet.
In 2018, there are at least four key policy changes to keep tabs on that include adjustments to Social Security benefits, 401(k) contribution limit changes, and the preservation of one of the year’s most controversial financial rules.
Here’s what you need to know:
More Social Security benefits
For Social Security beneficiaries, there is a lot to be excited about in 2018.
The cost-of living-adjustment, which determines the amount of money people receive from the system, is rising by 2 percent, the largest increase in five years. This means a growth in benefits for the more than 61 million recipients currently who currently utilize Social Security in America.
Additionally, the maximum payout—which is the amount you can receive once you’re eligible for 100 percent of your benefits—is also increasing, with the figure growing from $2,687 per month to $2,788 per month.
Greater 401(k) contributions
Saving for retirement will also be a little easier in the coming years, as the Internal Revenue Service announced that the annual limit for 401(k) contributors will increase by $500 in 2018.
Previously, anyone participating in a 401(k) or 403(b) plan, the majority of 457 plans, or the Thrift Savings Plan could set aside $18,000 per year, but the number will grow to $18,500. To see how much this change might affect your retirement funds, you can use this calculator to track how your 401(k) funds will grow over time.
Mandatory arbitration contracts
Earlier this year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a regulation banning mandatory arbitration clauses, the often-controversial sections of consumer contracts that effectively prevent customers from filing class-action suits against a company they are doing business with, such as a bank.
However, this law, which was set to come into effect in 2018, has been overturned by Congress, meaning the rule will remain in effect.
Martin Lynch, the compliance manager and director of education for Cambridge Credit Counseling Corp. in Agawam, Mass., says the repeal of the CFPB’s rule is a major defeat for consumers because forced arbitration is often used to scare customers out of taking action against the corporate world.
“That’s not fair, almost by definition,” says Lynch, who is also a member of the board of directors for the Financial Counseling Association of America. “It’s why the concept of consumer protection exists in the first place.”
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