More Money for Disability Benefits Recipients in 2018

Q: Does the amount of federal disability benefits ever increase?

Applying for disability benefits can be a complex and lengthy process, worsened by the fact that almost two-thirds—or 60%– of the initial disability claims can be denied, necessitating an even more lengthy appeals process that can span many months and even years.

The federal government, through the Social Security Administration, offers two different types of disability benefits programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). While both are administered by the Social Security Administration, and both require applicants to meet the program’s definition of “disabled”, other eligibility requirements are different.

SSDI is a work-based benefit, available to disabled workers between 18 and 65 years of age who have paid into the Social Security system through payroll income tax deductions and who have worked a certain number of years and acquired a sufficient number of work credits prior to becoming disabled. The financial status of the applicant is irrelevant.

SSI is a means-based benefit available only to those who are disabled, blind, or over 65 years of age and whose income is below an extremely limited set threshold of $2,000 for an individual/$3,000 for a couple.

Regardless of which benefits you may be receiving, you can expect a 2% cost-of-living adjustment (“COLA”) in 2018. It is also applied to veteran’s disability benefits.

As any disability benefits recipient can attest, and making ends meet on less than your full income is often difficult. So, any increase in benefits is good news.

In other news, the Medicare annual open enrollment period is underway from October 15th to December 7th. During that window, Medicare recipients, including eligible disability recipients, can make Medicare plan changes for their 2018 health care coverage. After a two-year waiting period, SSDI benefits recipients may access Medicare.

If you or loved one is applying for Social Security disability benefits or for veteran’s disability benefits, the attorneys at Peña & Bromberg can help you at any stage of the process. Contact us for a free consultation.

From our office in Fresno, we serve clients throughout Central Valley California, including San Francisco Bay, Oakland, Bakersfield, Madera, Stockton, Sacramento, and Modesto.

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