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2018 Brings 2 Percent Increase in Social Security Disability Benefits

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The Social Security Administration (SSA) announced in October that recipients will receive a 2 percent increase in benefits starting in 2018. The increase is the largest since 2012, although it will only amount of an average of $25 more each month for recipients.

The increase is called a cost of living adjustment, or COLA. Social Security typically administers a COLA to make sure benefits coincide with the increased cost of living caused by inflation. The COLA affects all Social Security recipients, not just disability beneficiaries.

Part of the reason for the larger increase is due to natural disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma that caused gas and other prices to increase, according to The Washington Post.

Social Security’s Disability Insurance Programs

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The SSA has two disability programs: disability insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental security income (SSI). Each program provides monthly benefits to its recipients. There are different requirements to qualify for each program, and the amount a person receives each month will differ based on which program they’ve qualified for, as well as other important factors about their claim.

For DIB, you must have paid Social Security taxes consistently and relatively recently. Typically, these taxes are taken out of your paycheck, so that means you need to have a solid work history. You accumulate at most 4 work credits a year by paying these taxes, and the number of work credits you have, as well as how recently you acquired them, will determine whether or not you qualify for DIB. If you became disabled after age 60, you typically need 40 work credits, and 20 of them must come from the 10 years prior to your onset date.

For SSI, your household must meet certain income limitations. Your work history can be sparse, and you don’t have to prove that you paid Social Security taxes.

For both programs, your disability has to be “medically determinable.” That means it must be verifiable by some sort of medical evidence, like a blood test. It also has to meet the SSA’s other criteria for determining a person’s disability, like whether or not it meets the SSA’s Listing of Impairments.

Your Monthly Benefit Amount

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The amount you will receive in benefits if you are approved for Social Security disability depends on many factors.

First, it matters whether or not you are approved for DIB or SSI. If you’re approved for SSI, the maximum amount you can receive each month in 2018 is $750 for an individual. The amount you receive may also be reduced by subtracting the amount of countable income you have.

However, if you’re approved for DIB, your monthly amount will be determined based on your previous payments into the Social Security system and your current income. Your current income must be below a certain monthly amount known as substantial gainful activity (SGA). SGA in 2018 is $1180 a month for non-blind individuals or $1970 for blind individuals. How much you paid into the Social Security system will determine how much you receive in benefits.

Contrary to popular belief, your benefits are in no way related to the severity of your medical condition(s). The only medical condition that affects your monthly benefit is blindness.

Help from an Indiana Social Security Disability Lawyer

For many disability recipients, a 2 percent increase is a way to help make ends meet. But many people who need monthly payments haven’t yet applied or have been discouraged by a denial. If you need disability benefits, an Indiana Social Security disability attorney can help. Whether you’re applying for the first time or waiting for your final hearing, call Hensley Legal Group today or contact us online to see how we can help with your case.