Social Security 2016: A Look at Cost-of-Living Adjustment and Other Changes

 October 30, 2015
Posted by M&LAdmin4

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

Here at M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC, we understand how important federal benefits are to individuals with disabilities. Through personal and professional experience, we know that these benefits and the accompanying health care services are essential to the long-term financial security of individuals with disability.

It is because we understand how important these benefits are that we devote a number of our services and invest a lot of time ensuring that our clients – and all individuals with disabilities – have access to the relevant tools and information that will enable them to secure these benefits for themselves. In addition to our Government Benefit Counseling service and our Government Benefit Workshop, we have also written a number of blogs about government benefits, how to secure them, and how to protect them.

Today, we would like to devote yet another blog to this topic; in this post we will look at the SSA’s recently released changes for 2016 – including information on next year’s cost of living adjustment – and we will also briefly discuss and provide registration info for our upcoming Government Benefit Workshop. If you would like to learn more, please read on!

Changes to SSI in 2016

As mentioned, the Social Security Administration recently released its 2016 Social Security Changes. Perhaps the most important info to come from these changes is this: as there was no increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI_W) from the third quarter of 2014 to the third quarter of 2015, there will be not be an increase in the monthly Supplemental Security Income amount for 2016.

Although the monthly amount of SSI has not changed for 2016, there have been other important changes that will take place for SSA benefits in the New Year. For example, the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) threshold – non-blind – has increased from $1090 per month to $1130 per month. In case you aren’t familiar with the SGA, here is a bit of background information: in order to retain eligibility for disability benefits, an individual must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (i.e. work). A person who is earning more than a certain monthly amount (net of impairment-related work expenses and other possible work incentive deductions) is ordinarily considered to be engaging in SGA – this monthly amount was $1090 in 2015, and has increased to $1130 in 2016. So, in a nutshell, this SGA threshold increase means that an individual with a disability other than blindness can now make $40 more per month before his or her benefit eligibility is affected.

Another important change is the increase of the Trial Work Period (TWP) from $780 to $810 per month. The trial work period refers to the period of time that an individual may obtain employment and still be considered as having a disability. According to the SSA, “We do not consider services performed during the trial work period as showing that the disability has ended until services have been performed in at least 9 months (not necessarily consecutive) in a rolling 60-month period. In 2015, any month in which earnings exceed $780 is considered a month of services for an individual’s trial work period. In 2016, this monthly amount increases to $810.[i]

If you would like to read all about the changes that SSA is putting in place for 2016 in detail, please visit the SSA’s website to read their press release on the topic. If you would like information on how to secure government benefits for your family member with disability, please don’t hesitate to contact us! Since 2013, M&L owner/founder Maedi Tanham Carney has a 100% success rate with helping individuals with disabilities secure these benefits and would be happy to assist your family with the complicated application process.

SSI and Government Benefit Workshop

As mentioned above, M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC considers government benefits to be incredibly important to the overall financial health of individuals with disabilities. We also know that the complex nature of government benefits – i.e. complicated eligibility requirements, lengthy application processes, and a lack of clarify in government language – can make this topic incredibly stressful for families. Because of this, we feel that it is especially important to ensure that all our clients are informed and aware of how to secure these benefits for their family members with special needs. One of the ways in which we do this is through our benefit workshop, titled “Understanding SSI/Medicaid & SSDI/Medicare.”

This workshop is designed to help families reach a greater understanding of the types of government benefit programs available; these benefits are explained in clear, concise language – we spend time discussing what exactly the government benefits and programs are, their importance, when to apply, how to apply, how to qualify, and how much money the individual with special needs may possibly receive. We will discuss the process of transitioning between SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) and SSI (Supplemental Security Income), and how to keep Medicaid and/or Medicare without the government benefits of SSI or SSDI. We also briefly touch on work incentives, and how they assist beneficiaries with their employment efforts.

If you would like to learn more about this workshop please visit our Workshop Page, or have a browse through our blog archive. For information on how to register, please visit our event page – we would love to see you there!

Would You Like More Information?

Thank you all for taking the time to visit our blog today! We hope that we have provided you with the information you need to make informed and successful financial decisions that will help you secure a successful future for your family with special needs.

As mentioned earlier, we have published a number of blogs on government benefits, including a detailed summary of each type of benefit, how to use these benefits as a part of a comprehensive financial plan, and how to ensure that your child retains eligibility for these benefits. If you are interested in reading any of these blog, please click here to access our blog archive. As always, if you have any questions or comments on this or any other topic, please do not hesitate to contact us – we love hearing from you!

Thanks again, and we hope to see you again next week! Also, don’t forget to register for that workshop!

[i] https://www.socialsecurity.gov/oact/cola/twp.html

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