Every year, the Social Security Administration makes small alterations to the benefits and requirements of Social Security Disability benefits. Although these changes are usually small, for people who do not have a significant amount of disposable income on Social Security Disability these changes can have a serious impact on their lives and finances. For workers in Virginia who are working or considering returning to work while on disability, understanding these changes can mean the difference between keeping your Social Security disability benefits and having your claim dismissed by the administration.
Cost of Living Adjustments
Every year, the Social Security Administration makes a cost of living adjustment to benefits to keep up with inflation. This cost of living adjustment applies to Social Security Disability benefits as well as Supplemental Security Income. For 2019, the cost of living adjustment for benefits increased 2.8 percent. For individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income, the maximum federal payment will grow to $771 per month, up from $750 last year.
Substantial Gainful Activity Rates
In order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, the first step in the process is proving that you are unable to perform a certain level of substantial gainful activity (SGA). In order to be eligible for disability benefits, a person cannot perform more than $1,220 in SGA per month, up from $1,180 in 2018. The applicable SGA rate is particularly important to people who are working or returning to work but still need access to disability benefits in order to survive. By going even a dollar over the SGA threshold in any given month can sever your disability benefits through Social Security, so it is incredibly important to keep track of how much money you are making in any given month.
In addition, the trial month threshold is also an important amount to keep track of for people considering a return to work after receiving Social Security Disability benefits. You are allowed nine months of work activity where a person can receive a disability check and payroll. The threshold for whether a month counts as part of the return to work is $880 per month. If you earn less, than it will not be counted as a trial return to work month. It is also important to note that a return to work does not need to be consecutive months, and is counted over a five year period.
Medicare premiums are usually one of the biggest expenses and have the largest impact on people’s Social Security Disability benefits. Medicare premiums come directly out of the benefits, and the government takes these premiums out before the check is even sent. The rates of Medicare premiums only increased a little for 2019, to $135.50 per month from $134 last year, but for people living on a fixed income it is still important to track.
Talk to a Lawyer Now
If you have questions regarding your Social Security disability benefits and how the 2019 rate changes might affect your claims, our Social Security Disability benefits attorneys at Harbison & Kavanagh in Richmond are here to help. Call the office or contact us today to learn more.