The COLA is basically a safeguard against inflation. As the COLA increases, so should monthly Social Security benefits. This applies to disability beneficiaries as well as supplemental income beneficiaries.
In 2019 the COLA was 2.8 percent. The slight decrease this year is likely due to low oil prices, though any trade tariffs may cause it to increase.
Will My Benefits Be Affected?
The amount you receive in benefits from Social Security depends on which disability program you are approved for.
Disability insurance benefits (DIB): To qualify for DIB, your disability must be medically determinable and meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) criteria for disability, including their Listing of Impairments. You must also have accrued a specific amount of work credits by paying Social Security taxes and having a solid history of employment. If you are approved for DIB, you will receive the same amount of money per month.
Supplemental security income (SSI): To qualify for SSI, your disability must be medically determinable and meet the SSA’s criteria for disability, including their Listing of Impairments. SSI is an income-based program. You don’t have to have a solid work history or prove that you’ve paid Social Security taxes. If you are approved for SSI, your monthly benefits may fluctuate based on other countable income.
If you receive DIB or SSI benefits, then your monthly benefits will be affected by the COLA.
How Does the COLA Affect Your Monthly Benefit Amount?
If you receive DIB, your monthly benefits are determined by how much Social Security taxes you’ve paid, and how much income you’re currently bringing in. If the COLA is 1.6 percent, then you would see a monthly payment increase by about 1.6 percent.
If you receive SSI, the maximum amount you can receive per month in 2019 is $771 for an individual and $1,157 for a couple. In 2020, that amount would theoretically increase by 1.6 percent.
For those who benefited from this year’s 2.8 percent increase, 1.6 percent may not seem like enough. The SSA calculates the COLA in the third quarter, and are scheduled to announce the official COLA for 2020 in October.
Help from an Indiana Social Security Disability Attorney
If you need disability benefits, a local Social Security disability lawyer can help you begin the process. Whether you’re applying for the first time, or want to appeal a denial, call Hensley Legal Group today or contact us online for a free conversation about your case.