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2015 COLAs for Employee Benefit Plans

Employee Benefits Advisory
October 23, 2014

The Internal Revenue Service has announced the 2015 cost of living adjustments to various limits on employee benefit plans. The adjusted amounts generally apply for plan years beginning in 2015. Some of the adjusted amounts, however, apply to calendar year 2015:

  1. The limit on an employee’s contributions made during the 2015 calendar year to a 401(k) or a 403(b) tax-sheltered annuity increases to $18,000. Participants who are age 50 or older by the end of 2015 may make an additional $6,000 catch-up contribution, which also increases from the 2014 limit.
  2. The limit on an employee’s contributions made during the 2015 calendar year to a 457 plan sponsored by a governmental unit or a tax-exempt organization also increases to $18,000. Participants who are age 50 or older by the end of the 2015 plan year may make an additional $6,000 catch-up contribution, which also increases from the 2014 limit.
  3. The limit on an employee’s compensation that may be considered for retirement plan purposes increases to $265,000 for plan years beginning in 2015.
  4. The limit on annual benefits payable under defined benefit plans remains the same at $210,000 for plan years beginning in 2015.
  5. The limit on allocations to individual accounts in defined contribution plans increases to the smaller of $53,000 or 100% of compensation for plan years beginning in 2015.
  6. The taxable wage base for Social Security increases to $118,500. This figure may affect the “integration level” for plans that are integrated with Social Security.
  7.  Employees will be classified as highly compensated employees for the plan year beginning in 2015 if their compensation in the 2014 plan year exceeded $115,000.
  8. Health savings accounts (HSAs) are a means of paying health care expenses under a high deductible health care plan. To be a high deductible health care plan, the deductible must be at least a minimum amount for the year and out-of pocket expenses cannot exceed a maximum amount for the year. Contributions to an HSA may be made by the employer or the employee, but the total annual contribution amount from both sources cannot exceed the smaller of the plan’s deductible for the year or the maximum contribution amount for the year. For 2015, the adjusted amounts for HSAs are:
    • Maximum contribution: Family: $6,650 Self: $3,350
    • Minimum deductible: Family: $2,600 Self: $1,300
    • Maximum out of pocket: Family: $12,900 Self: $6,450
      Participants who attain age 55 by the end of the 2015 plan year may make an additional $1,000 "catch-up" contribution to their HSAs.
  9. The maximum amounts that Social Security recipients may earn during 2015 without loss of Social Security benefits are as follows:
    • Recipients ages 62 through full retirement age: $1,310/mo. ($15,720/yr.)
    • Year recipient reaches full retirement age: $3,490/mo. up to the month the recipient reaches full retirement age. ($41,880/yr.)
    • There is a special rule that applies to earnings for one year, usually the first year of retirement, in which you can get a full social security check for any whole month you are retired, regardless of your yearly earnings.
    • "Full retirement age" for Social Security is:
      Year of Birth Full Retirement Age
      Prior to 1938 Age 65
      1938 Age 65 & 2 months
      1939 Age 65 & 4 months
      1940 Age 65 & 6 months
      1941 Age 65 & 8 months
      1942 Age 65 & 10 months
      1943 - 1954 Age 66
      1955 Age 66 & 2 months
      1956 Age 66 & 4 months
      1957 Age 66 & 6 months
      1958 Age 66 & 8 months
      1959 Age 66 & 10 months
      1960 and later Age 67

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