The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program was created to provide monthly benefits to individuals who are either disabled or over the age of 65. This is a needs-based program, which means the benefits are only awarded to low-income people who could truly use the financial assistance. As a result, many people who receive SSI benefits were excited to hear that their monthly benefits are about to increase. When do the changes take effect? Why are benefits increasing? Here’s what you need to know:
Why Monthly SSI Benefits Are Increasing
It’s normal for prices to increase over time, which is called inflation. As prices go up, benefits must go up as well so recipients can still afford to cover their living expenses. In fact, federal law requires the SSA to raise SSI monthly benefits whenever there is a rise in inflation. This increase is known as a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) and it is the reason why benefits are increasing now.
The Timing & Size of the Increase in SSI Benefits
SSI recipients will see a 2% increase in their monthly benefits beginning at the end of this year. Two-percent may not seem like a huge increase, but it’s actually the largest increase in SSI benefits since 2012.
Once this increase takes effect, the SSA will raise its maximum monthly payments to $750 per month for individuals and $1,125 per month for couples. This amounts to a $15 increase in maximum benefits for individuals and a $23 increase in maximum benefits for couples.
Is 2% Enough?
Many people do not believe the 2% increase is enough and have questioned how the SSA came up with this number. The COLA is calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is an agency that is also responsible for tracking consumer prices. Critics have argued that the Bureau of Labor Statistics should look solely at the rising prices that disabled individuals and seniors face instead of looking at rising consumer prices as a whole. Since seniors and disabled individuals have different needs than the rest of the population, critics believe doing this would help the Bureau calculate a more accurate COLA. This may happen in the future, but for now the COLA remains at 2% for SSI recipients.
If you are disabled, find out if you qualify for disability benefits by speaking to an attorney today. The attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C. will review the benefits that may be available to you and then guide you through the application process. Please call us today at 918-582-2500, toll free at (800) 722-8880, or contact us online for a free consultation with an experienced attorney.