Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Social Security and SSI Increases 2018

SSI
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is gearing up to begin paying more to beneficiaries in the coming months. Starting in January 2018, a 2.0 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will impact more than 61 million Social Security beneficiaries. Americans who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will see an increase in their payments as well. The SSI benefits increase takes effect on Dec. 29. 2017, affecting more than 8 million people. Some Americans will benefit from both Social Security and SSI increases.

People who rely on Social Security and SSI will see a 2 percent increase as we make the transition into 2018, Disability Scoop reports. This is the most significant benefit increase since 2012 when recipients saw a 3.6 percent jump and the third-biggest increase since 2009.

Why The Sudden Increase in Benefits?


Every time inflation rises in the United States an automatic cost-of-living adjustment is calculated, by law. The Administration ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index set by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you’d like to learn more on how the COLA is calculated, please click here. While the increase may not appear to be all that significant, the extra money will add up over time, giving millions of Americans greater financial security. The average retired worker will receive an extra $27 per month, for instance:
  • In 2017, the maximum federal SSI payment for individuals was $735; in 2018 that number will rise to $750 per month.
  • This year couples received a maximum $1,103 per month, in 2018 that number will go up to $1,125.
  • The ceiling on earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $128,700 from $127,200.
It’s worth pointing out that Medicare recipients who have their Plan B premiums deducted from their monthly Social Security may not benefit from the increase, Fortune reports. The “hold harmless clause” is a rule that ensures that Part B monthly premiums don’t rise at a faster pace than Social Security’s COLA. Information on changes to Medicare in 2018 resides here.


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SSI Lawyer


If you are applying for or were denied Supplemental Security Income, please contact Attorney Stephanie Merritt Driscoll. At the Driscoll Law Corporation, we can help you navigate the ins-and-outs of Social Security and give you the best chance at receiving the benefits you require.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Social Security Representative Payee Program

representative payees
Social Security is the saving grace of most Americans of retirement age. Without such benefits, getting through one’s golden years would be even more trying than it already is in America. Those who reach the age of collecting Social Security are eligible to receive monthly checks of varying amounts. Naturally, it’s generally not a lot of money, but it is usually enough to make all the difference.

If budgeted in a sound manner, Social Security Administration benefits can go a long way. But, what if a recipient is not of sound mind? As you can probably imagine, there are a number of things that can go wrong. Before we proceed with this article, please keep in mind: A half million retirees have what are known as “representative payees.” Which is only 1.5% of SSA retirees. But, researchers Geoffrey Sanzenbacher and Anek Belbase of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, contend that an estimated 10% or so of retirees have dementia, Forbes reports. Recently, the two published a study on the Representative Payee Program.

If the research is accurate, that is a lot of Americans who probably should not have control over their benefits. You are probably wondering how this can be the case? The answer is that most people don’t know about the existence of the SSA Representative Payee program.

“People don’t know about the Representative Payee program,” said Sanzenbacher. “It’s one reason they don’t use it more.”


Managing SSA Benefits


Perhaps the most troubling facet of this story is that in 1939 Congress granted the SSA authority to appoint “representative payees,” according to the article. Said payees, who are not government employees, manage the benefits of beneficiaries unable to manage their finances on their own. Representative Payees decide how to spend a beneficiary’s Social Security income and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and are required to keep records of how the money is spent. Naturally, to deter against elder abuse.

“Representative Payee can be a wonderful tool particularly for a person whose assets are only Social Security benefits,” says Marit Anne Peterson, program director at the Minnesota Elder Justice Center in St. Paul, Minn. 

The study had some promising findings, indicating that when a Payee is not utilized, one’s family usually steps up to manage finances. However, family is not always a reliable resource to depend on, or are no longer living with the beneficiary. In other cases, getting control of another person’s finances can be extremely tricky, even if they are your family. What’s more, family members may not be in a position to oversee the finances of their mother or father. If you have a loved one with dementia, you should take a look at the Social Security Representative Payee program.

“The people with dementia may be better off with a family member, but clearly the family member is worse off,” says Joseph Gaugler, long-term care professor of nursing at the University of Minnesota. “We clearly rely very heavily on families to provide extreme support. How long can we rely on this system?”


Help With Social Security Benefits


Making sense of the minute details of Social Security can be extremely difficult. At the Driscoll Law Corporation, we can help you or a loved one. Please contact us today.