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Social Security Announces 2 Percent Increase in Disability Benefits for 2018

Posted by on in Already Applied for Disability Benefits

disability benefits, Chicago disability benefits lawyer, disability payments,  disability recipients, disability benefits claimSocial Security disability benefits do not give recipients much to live on. In 2017, the average disability recipient gets just $1,173 per month. That is less than $300 per week to cover all of the recipient's living and personal expenses.

Keep in mind, this is just the average. The actual amount of disability benefits that you receive is based on your personal average lifetime earnings—in other words, how much you paid into the disability insurance system. (The maximum possible monthly benefit in 2017 is $2,687.) You are not entitled to higher benefits based on the severity of your disability or how much other members of your household may earn.

Cost of Living Adjustments

Your disability benefits are also not fixed in stone. Social Security makes automatic annual adjustments to the monthly benefits paid to disability recipients. These adjustments are tied to increases in the “cost of living” and are commonly known as COLA. In theory, COLA is supposed to measure inflation in consumer prices. The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics maintains the official COLA figures.

In some years there has been no increase in disability payments as the COLA was effectively zero. But the Social Security Administration recently announced a 2 percent COLA for all retirement and disability recipients, effective January 2018. This means that if you are currently on disability, you should notice a 2 percent increase in your monthly check or automatic deposit in January. This COLA will also increase the average monthly disability benefit from $1,173 to $1,197.

Limits on How Much Disability Applicants Can Earn

The COLA increase also affects the threshold used to determined “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) in disability cases. The SGA is basically how much a person can earn each month without losing his or her eligibility for disability benefits. In 2017, the SGA for a non-blindness disability is $1,170 per month, which will increase to $1,180 per month in 2018. For blind individuals, there is a higher SGA of $1,950 per month in 2017, which will increase to $1,970 per month in 2018.

If Social Security has already determined you are disabled, you may later attempt to return to work and earn some income without jeopardizing your benefit payments. This is known as a “trial work period.” This year a disability recipient may earn up to $840 per month during the trial work period. In 2018, this amount will increase to $850 per month.

Need Help Applying for Disability Benefits?

It is important to be aware of the SGA and trial work period limits, especially if you are still in the process of applying for disability benefits. If you need help from an experienced Chicago disability benefits lawyer in dealing with Social Security, contact Pearson Disability Law, LLC, today.


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