Every new year, there are often changes to many government policies and programs, and Social Security is no exception. Whether you are currently receiving benefits, plan to apply this year, or are years from retirement, it is important to understand how these changes could impact your potential benefits. Here, the disability advocates at Disability Associates break down new changes to Social Security law and spousal benefits.

Social Security Changes for 2018

The most significant change for Social Security benefits in the new year is–for the first time since 2012–a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) of 2 percent for all those receiving Social Security and Supplementary Income (SSI), thereby increasing the average benefit from $1,377 per month to $1,404.

In addition, if you choose to retire at the Full Retirement Age–which has been increased from 66 years and 2 months to 66 and 4 months–the maximum benefit you can receive is increasing 3.7 percent, from $2,687 per month to $2,788. While neither of those adjustments is very large, every dollar that takes the pressure off your investments for monthly income can be considered a positive.

What are Social Security Spousal Benefits?

Spousal benefits are designed to provide retirement income to spouses who either didn’t work or earned significantly less than their spouses over their working lifetime. Stay-at-home parents are a good example of spousal benefit recipients, as many people who stayed home to raise children for years don’t have as much in earnings over their lifetimes, and therefore wouldn’t be entitled to much of a Social Security benefit based on their own work record.

To collect a spousal benefit, your spouse must be collecting his or her own Social Security retirement benefit. Also, you must file for your own retirement benefits and your spousal benefit simultaneously, meaning you can’t choose one and delay the other. If you are already receiving spousal benefits, you will be glad to know that the 2 percent COLA for 2018 provides you a small monthly increase as well.

Spousal Benefits with Social Security Disability Income

If a husband or wife has been married for at least a year to someone who receives Social Security disability income, he or she is also eligible to receive Social Security benefits if their spouse is 62 years of age or older. Note that, if the disabled individual is still living, a spouse generally receives 50% of the disabled worker’s monthly SSDI amount.

On the other hand, if the spouse passed away while receiving SSDI, the surviving spouse can still receive benefits is he or she is at least 60 years old or is 50 years old and disabled themselves.

Disability Associates Will Help You Understand and Apply for Social Security Benefits

Like many aspects of Social Security, receiving income as a spouse or disabled worker can have a lot of moving parts, and staying abreast of annual changes is crucial to ensure you receive the most out of your benefits. We here at Disability Associates are committed to your best interests and ensuring that you understand the ins and outs of Social Security Law. For information on how we can help, this year’s changes, or to get started with your application process, contact us today!