Every year, the Social Security Administration conducts anannual financial review and announces any changes that will go into effect in the next year. These changes often include adjustments to monthly payment amounts and rules for applying and qualifying for benefits. This post includes some significant changes made to Social Security Disability that went into effect the beginning of 2017.
Earning Social Security Work Credits
To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you usually must obtain at least 40 work credits, depending on how old you were at the time you became disabled. Those who are disabled at a younger age may qualify for SSDI with fewer than 40 credits. You can earn up to four credits per year. To earn the maximum four work credits this year, you must pay taxes on at least $5,200 (up from $5040 in 2016).
Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)
Everyone receiving SSDI payments will see a modest 0.3% cost of living adjustment in 2017. The payments will increase slightly, by about $4-5 per month, on average.
Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) Limits
Substantial gainful activity is the amount of work a person does that someone would normally be paid for doing. There are limits to the amount of substantial gainful activity a person can do while qualifying for Social Security Disability. Last year, the SGA limit was $1,130 ($1,820 for blind applicants) a month. This year, the limit has been raised to $1,170, or $1,950 for the blind.
Trial Work Period (TWP) Income
Sometimes a disabled person’s health will improve, and he may wish to return to work. Social Security Disability Insurance allows you to return to work on a trial basis up to nine months before canceling your benefits. In 2016, any month you received an income over $810 counted towards your TWP. This year, the TWP income threshold is raised to $840.
Maximum Monthly Benefits
Last year, the maximum monthly payment an SSDI recipient could receive was $2,639. For 2017, the maximum monthly benefit is now $2,687, an increase of 1.8%.
Changes to Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Resource limits for SSI recipients did not change in 2017. An individual cannot have more than $2,000 in resources, while a married couple must have less than $3,000 to qualify for SSI. However, SSI recipients will see a slight cost of living adjustment, allowing them to earn up to $735 a month ($1,103 maximum for a married couple).
Rule Changes for Opinion Evidence
The Social Security Administration recently changed the way it considersopinion evidence from doctors and other medical professionals. They are no longer required to give greater weight to medical opinions of “treating physicians” and will not need to provide much explanation for choosing one doctor’s opinion over another. This may make it more difficult for SSDI applicants to be approved for benefits.
Call A Mt. Pleasant, SC Disability Lawyer
Most Social Security Disability claims are denied after initial review. Working with an attorney can greatly increase your chances of approval. If your SSD application has been denied or you need help applying, contact Klok Law Firm, LLC for legal assistance.