A new year means changes to how the Social Security Administration calculates benefits and eligibility for its disability programs.
Probably the biggest change for 2018 will be the amount that Supplemental Security Income recipients receive each month.
SSI is a need-based program that currently has a fixed benefit of $735 per month. Next year, the SSI benefit will rise to $750 per month, the biggest increase its seen in several years.
Married couples on SSI currently receive a maximum benefit of $1,103 per month. In 2018, that also rises to $1,125 per month.
Those receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits will receive a 2% cost of living increase next year.
With the average SSDI recipient now getting $1,173 per month, that should rise to $1,197 next year, according to the Social Security Administration.
The other notable change in 2018 applies to substantial gainful activity (SGA). While there are some exceptions that are a little too detailed to go into here, the gist of SGA is that it’s the maximum amount that an individual can earn before he or she is disqualified from receiving disability benefits.
Right now, SGA is set $1,170 per month, or $14,040 per year. In 2018, SGA will go up to $1,180 per month, or $14,160 per year.
Social Security increases benefits based on the Consumer Price Index. Last year, benefits increased only 0.3%. The previous three years before that, the cost of living adjustment remained below 2% each year, so this will be the largest increase in benefits disability recipients have seen since 2012 when they received a 3.6% increase in benefits.
These changes will go into effect in January 2018. Anyone with a pending disability application will see the increase in benefits automatically included in any 2018 backpay they receive if they are approved next year.