The Social Security Administration announced the increase last month. Retirees, Social Security disability recipients, and those receiving Social Security Supplemental Security Income will benefit. For the average retiree, this increase translates into about $22 a month.
In addition to the cost of living adjustment, or COLA, other changes that were announced will affect even more Americans, whether currently receiving benefits or not.
Paying Taxes: For working Americans, the maximum taxable earnings will change next year. The first $117,000 of their income in 2014 was subject to Social Security taxes. In 2015, that amount will increase to $118,500.
Qualify for Retirement Benefits: To get Social Security income when you reach retirement age, you must have accumulated 40 credits during your working life. To achieve this, you can earn up to 4 credits a year, which are allotted based earning over a specific amount of money. In 2014, workers needed to earn $4,800 for the year to get their four credits. In 2015, that amount is increased to $4,880.
Benefits While Still Working: For workers younger than the full retirement age of 66 who are receiving retirement benefits, there is a limit on how much money you can earn through a job without having your Social Security benefits reduced. In 2015, the limit on earnings will increase to $15,720 a year, an increase of $240 from 2014. Once you exceed this limit, your benefits are reduced by $1 for every $2 you earn. For those who will turn 66 in 2015, the earnings limit will be $41,880. There is no limit for those who are 66 or older for the entire year.
Qualifying for Disability: Social Security disability benefits are only available for those who are unable to work at a substantial level. In 2014, that level was defined as a job that pay at least $1,070 a month. That level will increase in 2015 to $1,090 a month.
Cost of living adjustments are made based on changes to the government’s Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Department of Labor.
When there is a minor increase in core cost-of-living, that translates into a minute increase in the benefits that are available to retirees, as well disability beneficiaries. A number of factors affect the cost-of-living adjustment, including the price of gas that has come down in 2014. Clothing prices have also dropped compared to a year ago, and food prices are down by less than 3% compared to a year ago.
Disabled persons who spend heavily on medical expenses and medications are likely to find that the adjustment does not work in their favor as medical costs have increased approximately 1.8% over the past year.
Have you been denied Social Security disability benefits in Houston? Call 713-993-7311 to speak with Houston Social Security disability attorney M. Stanley Whitehead, and for help filing a claim, or filing an appeal against your claim denial.