2018 Changes to Social Security Disability

October 17, 2017
Dayes Law Firm

The Social Security Administration makes important updates to the eligibility criteria for Social Security disability programs on an annual basis. These updates can impact various aspects of eligibility, such as limits on the resources and income that claimants can earn while receiving benefits.

The Social Security Disability attorneys in Phoenix at Dayes Law Firm PC are knowledgeable in all aspects of Social Security law. We represent claimants who are applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. If you believe your claim may be impacted by any of these changes, contact a reputable Social Security Disability attorney at our law office to discuss these updates during a free, confidential consultation.

Cost of Living Adjustment

In recent years, the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) has been minimal or non-existent. Federal benefits increase when the cost of living rises based on the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index. The COLA is deigned to offset the increased cost of living.

The COLA for 2018 will result in an increase in two percent, the largest jump since 2012. More than 66 million Americans will see increased benefit amounts in SSI and Social Security payments next year.

The new amounts will be:

  • Maximum federal SSI payment for singles will increase from $735 to $750
  • Maximum federal SSI payment for couples will increase from $1,103 to $1,125
  • Average estimated monthly Social Security benefits for all disabled workers will increase from $1,173 to $1,197

Substantial Gainful Activity

To remain eligible for Social Security disability benefits, you cannot receive employment income that is greater than the substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit. The SGA limit for 2018 for a non-blind person is $1,180 a month and for a blind person is $1,970 a month.

The Social Security Administration encourages claimants to try to return to work when possible. It provides for a trial work period during which time an applicant can still receive benefits while working. This allows a claimant to experiment with the possibility of returning to work without risking immediately losing benefits. In 2018, months in which you earn $850 or more will count toward your trial work period.

Student Exclusion

The student earned income exclusion is a work incentive for SSI recipients who are students. It allows them to exclude a portion of their income so they can retain a larger portion of their SSI benefits. This exclusion is available for students 22 and younger who are regularly attending school. The monthly limit for the student earned income exclusion is $1,820 and the annual limit is $7,350.

Resource Limits

Because SSI is a needs-based program, claimants must have limited resources and income to qualify for this type of benefit. The resource limit for 2018 did not change: The resource limit for singles is $2,000 and $3,000 for couples. The SSA has strict guidelines regarding what types of resources and income are counted toward this limit and which are excluded.

Contact a Social Security Disability Lawyer

If you believe the changes discussed above may impact your claim, it is important that you discuss this information with an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer. At Dayes Law Firm PC, our attorneys thoroughly review each step of the process with our clients, from initial eligibility to the appeals process to continued eligibility.

We offer a free, no-obligation consultation to review your claim and do not charge for attorneys’ fees unless your claim is approved.

Contact us at 1-800-503-2000 to have a knowledgeable attorney review your claim.