The Social Security Administration is making some significant changes to Social Security benefits in 2022, including a huge cost-of-living adjustment. Whether you are planning to apply for benefits or are already receiving them, you should review these changes to determine if they may affect your current benefits or eligibility for benefits.
If you are applying for benefits or have been denied, our experienced Harrisburg-based Social Security Disability lawyers may be able to help you. We have helped many people with disabilities secure benefits, and we work on contingency, which means we do not charge upfront fees.
5.9 Percent Cost-of-Living Adjustment
Possibly the most significant change for Social Security beneficiaries is a 5.9 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to benefit payments. COLAs are calculated each year based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).
The 5.9 percent increase is the largest such adjustment in 40 years. The maximum Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment will increase to $841 from $794 per month for individual recipients. The maximum SSI benefit for couples also increases to $1,261 from $1,191.
The average Social Security benefit is also going to increase for many types of beneficiaries:
- Retired workers who receive benefits will receive an average of $1,657 per month, which is $92 more than last year.
- Aged couples who receive benefits will receive an average of $2,753 per month, which is $154 more than last year.
- Spouses who are widowed will see average benefits increase to $3,187 from $3,009 last year.
- Aged widowers will see an $86 increase to an average of $1,553 per month.
- Disabled married couples will see a $133 payment increase to an average of $2,383.
- Other disabled workers will see average benefits increase to $1,358 from $1,282 last year.
Substantial Gainful Activity Limits Increase
Social Security Disability thresholds are also increasing next year. These thresholds essentially set the limit on the amount of money you can earn and still be eligible for benefits. The threshold for different types of beneficiaries is also known as the substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit.
For recipients who are not blind, the monthly limit on SGA is $1,350, an increase of $40 compared to last year. Disability recipients who are blind have an SGA limit of $2,260 per month. This is an increase of $70 compared to last year. However, it is important to note that blind SSI recipients do not have an SGA limit.
SGA limits also do not apply to those eligible for a trial work period. These individuals can earn more than the SGA limit while testing their ability to work. They can do this for up to nine months.
For 2022, any month where one of these workers earns more than $970 per month will be counted toward the nine-month limit on a trial work period. This is an increase of $30 compared to 2021.
Supplemental Security Income Changes
Supplemental Security Income is a benefit for those with limited work history and limited assets. Next year there will be changes to the federal income limit and student exclusion. Resource limits will stay the same (individuals cannot have more than $2,000 in assets while couples cannot have more than $3,000 in assets).
The income limit for individuals increases from $794 per month to $841 per month. The monthly income limit for couples increases from $1,191 per month to $1,261 per month. However, over half of an applicant’s income is not counted toward these limits. That means you could make up to $1,766 per month in 2022 and still qualify for benefits. That said, any income you earn will reduce your monthly benefits.
The student exclusion for 2022 increases from $1,930 to $2,040 per month and from $7,770 to $8,230 per year. In other words, the first $2,040 in monthly income cannot be counted against your eligibility for SSI benefits.
Call to Learn if We May be Able to Help You
We are prepared to help people with disabilities secure the Social Security Disability benefits they need to support themselves and their families. We have many years of combined experience and a track record of success.
It is important to avoid making assumptions about your eligibility for disability benefits. Discuss the situation with a licensed attorney first to find out what your options may be.
Schedule a free legal consultation. We are here to help. (717) 510-1770