Tag Archives: W-2

Social Security adjusts taxable wage base and related figures for 2018

On November 27, the Social Security Administration (SSA) updated the 2018 taxable maximum amount, based on a national payroll service provider’s corrected Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Forms W-2 (Wage and Tax Statement) provided to the agency in late October 2017, after the SSA announced cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for 2018. The new data lowers the national average wage index for 2016, which in turn reduces the 2018 Social Security taxable maximum amount (also known as the taxable wage base or the contribution and benefit base), the primary insurance amount (PIA) bend points used to calculate benefits, and the family maximum bend points.

The adjusted figures are:

• The 2018 Social Security taxable wage base: $128,400 (corrected from $128,700).
• The 2018 PIA bend points that are used to determine individual beneficiaries’ Average Index Monthly Earnings (AIME): $895 and $5,397 (corrected from $896 and $5,399). Thus, the monthly PIA formula will be 90% of the first $895 of AIME, plus 32% of the AIME over $895 and through $5,397, plus 15% of the AIME over $5,397.
• The 2018 bend points in the family maximum formula: $1,144/$1,651/$2,154 (corrected from $1,145/$1,652/$2,155).
• The 2016 national average wage index: $48,642.15 (corrected from $48,664.73).

Milliman has posted a revised Client Action Bulletin (CAB 17-4R) to reflect the Social Security Administration’s adjusted figures.

For additional information about the 2018 updated Social Security figures, please contact your Milliman consultant.

Transparency and total compensation

With the W-2 reporting requirement to disclose the amount both employee and employer spend on healthcare costs beginning in January 2013, as well as recent fee disclosure requirements for defined contribution plans, benefit cost information for employees is becoming more and more accessible and transparent. Yet, in a time when 40% of employees don’t know the cost of their health insurance (LIMRA, 2011), it begs the question: Are companies doing enough to take advantage of a consistent and deliberate communications strategy?

With customized tools, such as total reward statements, organizations are able to present benefit information beyond the requirements for W-2 reporting, and weave together a sum of all total reward parts—how pay, rewards, and recognition, traditional and nontraditional benefits alike (such as flex time), support each employee. Personalized messages can be targeted to specific groups within a company, such as employee types (field, management, administration, executive), generational types (Gen X, Gen Y, Baby Boomers), or locations, or to employees who don’t participate in the defined contribution plan or the wellness plan. Milliman’s employee communication consultants find that organizations have stronger control over total compensation costs, as well as more flexibility to respond to changes in the market and within the organization itself, after implementation of total compensation strategies.

These strategies increase an employee’s access to more relevant and personalized information. They also act as a potential tool to attract, retain, and motivate employees, which couldn’t be more timely for human resources departments. Recently, attendees and panelists at Milliman’s 2012 Compensation Breakfast in Seattle shared that retention of key employees remains one of their biggest challenges, if not indeed their biggest. A strategy of total compensation will help current employees see the value that not only includes total pay, but also being part of an organization’s mission, goals, values, and culture.