SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY – WHAT’S NEW FOR 2023?

SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW FOR 2023?

A new year brings changes to many parts of our lives.  One area of change, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
program includes multiple changes.

 

A significant change is the increase in the monthly SSDI benefit.  The SSDI benefit tracks the federal Cost-of-Living Adjustment. (COLA) Except for several years where the benefit was not increased (2010, 2011 and 2016 are the most recent) the monthly benefit has increased over the last 45 years.  The lowest increase was 1.3%, which occurred in 1987, 1999, and 2021.  The highest increase was 14.3% in July 1980.  The increase for 2023 is 8.7%.  It is one of the highest COLAs. This increase will be reflected in each monthly check (or direct deposit).

 

There are other areas of the SSDI program which will reflect a COLA.  Individuals applying for SSDI must meet financial guidelines before a claim will move forward to an analysis of health conditions and impairment affecting the ability to be gainfully employed.  If you are working, and earning “Substantial Gainful Activity” income (SGA), your claim will be halted and denied, without assessing its merits.   Each year the SSA sets the SGA.  The amount for 2023 is $1,470.00 per month.  If an applicant is making $1,470.00 of gross income, or more, per month (income before any deductions), SSA will find that the individual is not disabled – no matter how difficult it is for to work or function. If the applicant is blind, the SGA is $2,460 per month.

 

Another area applying COLA is the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit program.  SSI is payable to a disabled individual who does not have enough work credits to be eligible for SSD.  The maximum monthly payment for an SSI recipient for 2023 is $914 – and $1,371 for a couple.  (The SSI benefit for 2022 was $841 per month for an individual and $1,261 for a couple).

 

The SSDI program has another component which applies to individuals who are already approved and receiving SSDI benefits. It is called the Trial Work Period. (TWP) If an individual returns to work after an SSDI award, the individual is permitted to earn $1,050 per month in 2023 ($970.00 for 2022).  Caution:  The number of months of TWP is limited.  Also, the TWP  does not apply to individuals receiving SSI benefits.

 

The COLA also applies to the amount an individual must earn to acquire a quarter of covered income to achieve “insured” status for SSDI.  For 2023, an individual must earn $1,640.00 per quarter.  ($1,510 for 2022) Once you have a total of 20 quarters of covered income, only then are you insured for SSDI benefits.  Caution:  The 20 quarters of coverage must occur within a certain time frame.

 

Another area of anticipated change for 2023 involves hearings before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  At the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, SSA moved all hearings – phone and video – to virtual.  As of 2023, some of the ALJs have resumed in-person hearings.  We expect to see more and more in-person hearings in the future.  We also expect that applicants will have the option to have a phone or video hearing rather than an in-person hearing.  Stay tuned for more news on this topic!

 

For more information, visit these SSA websites: https://www.ssa.gov/cola/; https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/sga.html; https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/twp.html

 

Remember, this is only a summary of upcoming changes impacting disability benefits within the Social Security system. For a more in-depth discussion of changes – and how they relate to you – please call – 724 221 3191 – or visit our website at www.qrlegal.com and talk with one of the Social Security Disability attorneys at Quatrini Law Group.

 

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