Almost every year, there are changes to Social Security and the different types of benefits and 2019 will be no exception. Here’s the biggest changes Social Security, Social Security Income and Social Security disability beneficiaries can look forward to.
A 2.8 % COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) Increase
Based on the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W) from the third quarter of 2017 through the third quarter of 2018, Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries will receive a 2.8 percent cost of living increase to their benefits for 2019.
The COLA increase will result in higher average monthly benefit payments for all recipients:
- All Retired Workers $1,461 (up $39)
- Aged Couple, Both Receiving Benefits $2,448 (up $67)
- Widowed Mother and Two Children $2,876 (up $79)
- Aged Widow(er) living alone $1,386 (up $38)
- Disabled Worker, Spouse and One or More Children $2,130 (up $58)
- All Disabled Workers $1,234 (up $34)
This 2.8% bump represents a 0.8% increase over last year’s 2% COLA, making it the largest increase since 2012.
Maximum Taxable Earnings Cap Increase
There will be an increase in the maximum taxable earnings cap for 2019. The 7.65% tax rate employees (15.30% for self-employed workers) pay for Social Security and Medicare will remain the same. (6.20% of this tax goes to Social Security, 1.45% to Medicare.) However, in 2019 the cap for Maximum Taxable Earnings will increase from $128,400 to $132,900. Any earnings above this amount are not subject to the tax.
Retirement Earnings Test Exempt Amounts
If you are working while collecting Social Security benefits, you will be able to make more money this year before your earnings exceed the retirement earnings test amount and the Social Security Administration makes deductions from the benefits you receive.
If you are under full retirement age and working while receiving SS benefits, you can now earn up to $17,640 (or $1,470/mo.) without any reductions in benefits; if you are an individual working the year you reach full retirement age, the amount is $46,920/yr.(or $3,910/mo.). After that, there is no retirement earnings test amount for individuals who have attained full retirement age.
Disable Workers Can Earn More and Still Collect Benefits
Disabled persons who work (or, as the SSA puts it, engage in Substantial Gainful Activity) can earn more in 2019 and still qualify for SS disability benefits. In 2019, a non-blind disabled person can earn up to $1,220 a month (up $40 from last year); a blind disabled person can earn up to $2,040 a month (up $70 from last year). A disabled worker can earn up to $880 a month (up $30 from last year) during a Trial Work Period.
It Will Cost More to Earn a Social Security Work Credit in 2019
The earnings required to obtain one SSA work credit (one work credit equals three months of Social Security coverage) rises from $1,320 to $1,360 in 2019. A worker who makes at least $5,440 can earn up to four credits a year. In most circumstances, 40 credits are required to qualify for SS benefits.
The Full Retirement Age Goes Up another 2 Months
The full retirement age increases two months each year. In 2019, full retirement age is 66 years and six months. The full retirement age is scheduled to increase two months each year until it hits 67.
Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits in 2019
The rules and requirements for applying for Social Security disability benefits remain the same in 2019. If you need to appeal a denial of benefits, the help of an experienced SSDI denial attorney can be invaluable.
M. Stanley Whitehead is a board-certified Social Security benefits attorney who has helped disabled veterans and workers obtain the full benefits they deserve. Contact the law offices of M. Stanley Whitehead to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.