December 2017

New Year Brings Slight COLA
Increases and Uncertainty

COLA Bump and Budget Cuts

Social Security announced the Cost of Living Adjustment for Social Security recipients and the 2% increase will be a welcome increase for many.

As a result of the 2% COLA, SSI benefits for 2018 will rise to $750 from the 2017 $735 benefit. The average SSDI benefit for a single individual in 2018 is estimated to be $1,197/month.

The definition of “substantial gainful activity” will rise to $1,180/month in 2018. A person receiving SSDI who returns to work will use up one Trial Work Period Month in 2018 with gross earnings of $850/month.

As of this writing, Medicare has not announced its Part B premium increase. However, many people whose Part B premiums were frozen because of the small COLAs in the past will now see a large jump in their Part B premiums because of this year’s COLA.

In the last several years, Medicare Part B increases were limited to the small COLA as part of a hold harmless provision in the Medicare program. With this cost of living increase, many of those who did not have to pay the full Part B premium because of the hold harmless provision will get a large jump to make up for past years. For some people, it is possible that almost all of their COLA increase will go to the Part B premium payments.

Social Security’s Administrative
Budget is Being Cut Again

Congress determines much of Social Security’s operations budget as part of its responsibilities for managing tax dollars. For 5 of the last 6 years, Congress has cut Social Security’s budget and the current Congress is continuing the pattern.

The House of Representatives budget plan calls for no increase in SSA’s operations budget, despite each year having to provide services to more retirees, more survivors and more people receiving and seeking disability benefits. The Senate proposal is even worse calling for a 4%, or $400 million cut to Social Security’s budget for administration. This is despite all studies documenting the efficient operation of the Social Security system. It has been reported that SSA’s operations cost is less than 1% of all benefits paid.

If the Senate cuts are adopted, it will mean that since 2010, Congress will have cut SSA’s budget by 16% while the number of retirees, disabled and family survivors counting on Social Security has increased 14.3%. This means that customer service will be cut back further, hearing backlogs will increase, wait times on the phone lines will increase and consumer frustration will grow. This is not a sustainable pattern and we must all be contacting our representatives and urging them to fully fund this vital American program.

We need to continue strong advocacy for those people suffering medical problems which make work impossible. If you want to learn more about these programs and how we can work with your agency to fight on behalf of your clients please call us for a free in-service training.

TBIIn a quick hour, we can answer any questions you have about the process.

We’ll bring you up to speed on your area of interest and improve your ability to help clients and patients. Often agencies and organizations schedule for the year in December and January, and we’d like to get you on our calendar now!

Call or email us to schedule!




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