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COLA increase for disability benefits?

Given the state of the economy and high inflation it can be difficult for many seniors and disabled individuals to find the money to pay for their basic necessities such as food, housing and medication costs. Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “Will I be receiving a cost of living increase (COLA) this year?”


COLA for 2015 announced by SSA


 

The Social Security Administration announced this month that more than sixty-four million Americans who receive Social Security retirement benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits will get a 1.7 percent increase in their benefit payments beginning in 2015.

A 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase will be paid to more than 58 million seniors who receive Social Security retirement benefits in January of next year. The remaining Supplemental Security Income or SSI recipients, which include more than 8 million individuals, will receive their payments a little earlier on December 31, 2014.

The amount paid is based on the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

General information about how the SSA calculates the COLA adjustment can be found by reviewing the Social Security Act. To read more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.  Information about Medicare changes for 2015 is available at www.Medicare.gov.

Why is my SSI payment so low?


 

If you are receiving Supplemental Security Income or SSI benefits your SSI payment is not based on taxes or money you paid into the system. The amount you are qualified to receive for SSI is tied to the Federal Benefit Rate, which is determined by Social Security regulations. Some states will add a supplemental payment, but your federal SSI benefits will be limited to $721 per month (in 2014) for the non-blind.

Many claimants wonder how they can live on such a limited payment. This is a tough question. Housing alone in many cities can erode your entire SSI payment. The good news is, if you are receiving SSI, you may also qualify for other types of financial aid such as reduced housing and medical insurance such as Medicaid.

What am I getting less than $721 per month?


Some claimants are also not aware that certain actions can lower their monthly SSI benefit. For instance, if you are living with someone providing food and shelter or you are working and earning money, this can reduce your SSI benefits.

If you are working and receiving SSI it is important that you report your work earnings to the SSI. SSI over payments must be repaid to the Social Security Administration (SSA).

If you have questions about why your SSI payment is so low or need information about how to preserve your payments, contact the Social Security Administration.

Can I get SSDI instead of SSI?


 

While Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI generally does offer a higher benefit payout than SSI benefits, if you have been awarded SSI benefits it is because the SSA has concluded you did not have sufficient work credits to qualify for SSDI.