Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Updates to SSI in 2020


Millions of Americans depend on the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) they receive from the Social Security Administration (SSA) each year. SSI helps low-income adults as well as those who are blind, disabled, or elderly. Disabled children may also be eligible recipients. SSI payments could mean the difference for this population in meeting basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. Each year, SSA makes adjustments to its programs, based on factors such as the cost of living, and there are several updates to SSI in 2020.

Income Changes in 2020

More than eight million people currently receive monthly payments from the SSI program. SSI recipients typically have very low incomes. In 2020, a recipient must have less than $803 a month in unearned income to receive SSI benefits. A couple must have unearned income of less than $1,195 a month. Because a larger portion of earned income isn’t counted, a person who gets SSI can earn up to $1,651 a month ($2,435 for a couple) and still receive SSI payments.

SSI divides income into earned and unearned categories. Earned income includes wages, net earnings from self-employment, certain royalties and honoraria, and money from sheltered workshops. Unearned income includes all income that a person doesn’t earn, such as Social Security benefits, workers’ compensation, certain veterans’ compensation or pension payments, unemployment, pensions, support and maintenance in kind, annuities, rent, and other income.

While the Social Security Administration does encourage SSI recipients to work if they are able, people who work while applying for SSI benefits based on disability cannot make as much in earned income. In fact, in 2020 a person applying for SSI disability benefits who isn’t blind, and who works and earns more than $1,260 a month, probably won’t be able to get SSI benefits, according to SSA. Likewise, a person who is blind and is applying for SSI disability benefits, but who earns $2,110 a month, probably won’t be able to get SSI benefits.

Increases to SSI Payments in 2020

Each year, SSA typically announces a cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security recipients. Known as a COLA, the increase affects SSI recipients as well as those who receive Social Security payments. The COLA is adjusted based on the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index, which indicates whether prices for good and services are higher and the cost of living is more expensive.

In 2020, the COLA is 1.6 percent. The 2020 adjustment results in monthly maximum benefits of $783 for individuals and $1,175 for individuals with an eligible spouse, effective on December 31, 2019. COLA can change significantly from year to year. In 2016, there was no cost-of-living increase for Social Security recipients. COLA has reached a high of 14.3% in 1980, with the second highest of 11.2% recorded the following year, in 1981. In recent years, the COLA has been much lower, 2.0% in 2018 and 2.8% in 2019.

State Changes in 2020

Most states supplement the federal SSI payment. Only Arizona, Mississippi, North Dakota, and West Virginia, and the Northern Mariana Islands territory do not offer additional payments. In 2020, the total of the state and federal payments varies, depending on where the SSI recipient lives and the recipient’s situation.

For example, in California the maximum benefit for an individual who is elderly or disabled is $943.72 and the maximum benefit for a person who is blind is $1000.23. In Vermont, the maximum benefit for an individual who is elderly, blind, or disabled is $835.04 in 2020. The maximum for a couple in Vermont is $1,273.88 across the board for SSI recipients.

If You Need Help Understanding Supplement Security Income (SSI), Contact the Driscoll Salazar Disability Group

If your application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) was denied, please contact us. Our staff understands your challenges, and our goal is to make sure your application has the best possible chance of approval. Serving Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, Riverside, and San Diego County, we can provide you with strong representation to help achieve a successful claim. We can also help people navigate the process who are applying for the first time.

Misconceptions affect people who need benefits by deterring them from moving forward with an application. We want to help you better understand your legal options, which is why we offer free consultations. Take advantage of a free case evaluation by calling the Driscoll Salazar Disability Group at 888-984-3734.