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This year, retirement benefits are changing in a number of important ways; here is a summary of those changes:

Contribution limits to 401(k)s and IRAs increase by $500, but catch-up contributions for taxpayers over the age of 50 remain unchanged. The 2013 contribution limit for 401(k)s is $17,500; the contribution limit for IRAs is $5,500. Catch-up contribution limits are $5,500 for 401(k)s and $1,000 for IRAs.

The earnings limit for Roth IRA contributions has increased by $2,000 for individuals and heads of household, to $127,000 in 2013. For married couples, the modified adjusted gross income phase-out range increases by $5,000, to between $178,000 and $188,000.

Social Security payments increase by 1.7% in 2013, boosting the average benefits check by $21 each month.

Social Security taxes rise from 4.2% of income to 6.2% in 2013, with a maximum earnings limit of $113,700.

Medicare Part B premiums for most beneficiaries will increase by $5 per month; the Part B deductible also increases by about $7 per month. Individual retirees with incomes of more than $85,000 and couples with income in excess of $170,000 will also pay higher Part B premiums.

Medicare Part D coverage is expected to rise 7%, to an average of $40.18 in 2013.

The maximum guaranteed benefit for a retiree at age 65 with a traditional pension plan that is insured by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation increases to $57,477 in 2013.

Those receiving Social Security benefits take note: the government will stop mailing paper checks on March 1, 2013. You must select an electronic payment option to receive your benefits, either via direct deposit into your bank account or a Direct Express Debit MasterCard. Those who do not select an option will be automatically enrolled in the prepaid debit card.

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