The Houston Social Security disability benefits lawyers at the Law Offices of M. Stanley Whitehead are dedicated to helping our clients better understand the SSDI process and keeping them informed of any changes in the program that could affect their benefits.
2018 is just around the corner, and it’s bringing some changes for SSDI beneficiaries:
Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)
The good news for 2018 is that Social Security disability recipients will be receiving a little bit extra in their checks, thanks to a cost of living adjustment (COLA). Starting in January, the COLA will give Social Security Disability Insurance recipients a 2 percent increase in benefits.
The COLA is based on the Consumer Price Index from the third quarter of the previous year (2016) to the third quarter of the current year (2017). 2018’s COLA increase is the largest since 2012. Over the past several years, most of the COLA made to SSDI benefits have been very small, sometimes even zero. This year’s increase is partially the result of the inflation in fuel and food prices caused by the storms that ravaged Houston and other communities.
Veterans who receive disability benefits will also see an increase in their monthly payments.
Substantial Gainful Activity and the Social Security Disability Threshold
In 2018, disabled workers will be able to earn a little more money through substantial gainful activity (SGA).
The Social Security Administration requires that a person must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity in order to be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. If a disabled worker earns more than a certain level, known as the Social Security disability threshold, they are considered to be engaging in SGA. Disability benefits can be reduced or suspended if a disabled worker earns over a certain amount a month.
In 2018, the monthly SGA amount for statutorily blind individuals will be $1,970, up $20 from 2017. For non-blind individuals, this amount will be $1,180, again, up $20 from 2017.
Trial Work Periods for Disabled Workers
If a worker attempts to go back to work in 2018 after being disabled, they will be able to earn more money without losing benefits.
After an individual becomes eligible for disability benefits, they may decide to make an attempt to go back to work. As an incentive, the Social Security Administration allows for a trial work period (TWP) in which a beneficiary may have earnings and still collect benefits.
The TWP gives workers the opportunity to test whether or not they are fit to return to work without being disqualified for benefits. Again, workers are limited to the amount of earnings they can make. The TWP threshold was $840 a month in 2017; it will rise to $850 per month in 2018.
Speak with a Leading Houston SSDI Lawyer about Your Disability Claim
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a government program that pays benefits to workers (and their dependents) who cannot work because of certain medical conditions. It is designed to replace some of the income a person loses while being unable to work due to a disabling condition. Workers earn coverage for SSDI benefits by paying Social Security taxes on their earnings. To qualify for SSDI, a person must be under 65 years old and have a qualifying disabling condition as defined by the Social Security Administration.
Applying for Social Security disability benefits can be a difficult process. It is not uncommon to have an application denied. The key to successfully appealing a disability claim denial is being represented by an experienced SSDI lawyer.
Houston Social Security disability lawyer M. Stanley Whitehead has extensive experience helping disabled workers and veterans get the benefits they are entitled to. Board certified in Social Security disability law, M. Stanley Whitehead is aware of all the changes coming to SSDI benefits in 2018 and the impact they will have on beneficiaries.
If you need to appeal an SSDI claim denial, call the Law Offices of M. Stanley Whitehead at (713) 993-7311 to schedule a free consultation. We are based in Houston, but work with clients throughout the United States.