2018 will bring several changes to the Social Security disability system, and it is important for those who currently earn these benefits, as well as future applicants, to understand these changes. Here, the disability advocates at Disability Associates provide information on the changes to be aware of this year.

A Cost-of-Living Adjustment Has Been Made

The Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) is made when the cost of living rises based on the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index. Changes to COLA have not happened for some time; however, as of 2018, those who receive Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security disability will see a two percent increase in benefits.

This means that the maximum federal SSI payment for singles will increase from $735 to $750, the maximum federal SSI payment for couples will increase to $1,125 from $1,103 and the average Social Security disability benefits will rise from $1,173 to $1,197. These increases are meant to offset the effects of inflation.

The 2018 Substantial Gainful Activity Limit Has Been Released

Those who wish to receive, or currently receive, Social Security disability benefits must not receive an employment income that is larger than the Substantial Gainful Activity limit (SGA). The SGA differs for those who are legally blind versus those who are not: those who are blind cannot make more than $1,970 a month, and those who are not blind cannot make more than $1,180 a month.

The SSA does, however, encourage those who receive disability benefits to attempt to work. As such, they allow for a trial work period where an individual receiving disability benefits will not lose their benefits immediately. Any month where an individual earns more than $850 a month will count toward their trial work period.

Social Security Becomes Digital and Increases Security

If you are under the age of 60 in 2018, you will no longer receive paper statements from the SSA. In order to check your statements, estimate future benefits, file a complaint or any other necessity, you will now need to create an online my Social Security account. Try to check your account at least once a year, to ensure that your information is accurate and up-to-date.

In an effort to bolster security, the Social Security website has added new features that help protect the accounts of Social Security receivers. Now, a one-time code will be delivered to an account holder’s cellphone or e-mail address, which must be entered with their username and password each time they wish to log-in to their account. This two-step procedure greatly reduces the risk of an individual’s information being stolen.

Medicare cards are now also being made without holder’s Social Security numbers printed on them; instead, a unique combination of letters and numbers will be used. These should be sent out in April of 2018, and will help to prevent Social Security fraud, which is a particularly concerning issue for the elderly and those with disabilities.

Discuss These Changes with a Social Security Disability Advocate at Disability Associates

Social Security disability claims are the one and only focus at Disability Associates, ensuring that the dedicated attorneys at this firm are able to commit their full attention and resources to helping those with disabilities receive the benefits they deserve. To learn more about the changes 2018 is bringing, receive help applying for disability benefits, file an appeal or more, contact us today to speak to a disability advocate.