Monthly Newsletter

Monthly Newsletter

December 2018

Year End: Higher COLA But More Cuts

Social Security’s Cost of Living Adjustments were recently announced and brought some good news to people on retirement, survivors and disability benefits.

Social Security’s Cost of Living Adjustments were recently announced and brought some good news to people on retirement, survivors and disability benefits.

The 2.8% increase in benefits was one of the higher increases in the last several years. However, that is simply a reflection that the cost of living for seniors and the disabled has been steadily rising. As is widely understood – no one “gets rich” on Social Security benefits. The key is to maintain housing, health care and a basic lifestyle.

Housing is a major issue for people trying to live on SSDI and SSI benefits. It is not uncommon for housing and energy costs in certain communities to be 50% or more of monthly benefits leaving little money for medical care, job training or other basic needs.

Key numbers:

  1. SSI benefits will increase to $771 in 2019 from $750;
  2. The average SSDI benefit will be approximately $1,234 per month;
  3. The definition of “substantial gainful activity” (work) will rise to $1,220 per month;
  4. The definition of a Trial Work Period month will rise to $880 per month in 2019 from $850 per month in 2018.
  5. The Medicare Part B premium will be $135.50 in 2019 for individuals with income equal to or less than $85,000 per year. This is only a small increase and the premium does rise as individual and family income increases. Deductibles under both Part A and Part B have increased depending upon the type of care.

While these increases are welcome, there is still concern about the 2019 budget from Congress and anticipated cuts to the Social Security administrative budget. Once again, the House of Representatives has called for cutting Social Security’s budget, continuing its annual attack on the ability of Social Security to deliver prompt and accurate services to seniors, the disabled and survivors. Longer waits in District Offices, longer delays on the 800-telephone system and a slow-down in upgrading Social Security’s technology and systems can be expected if the budget is cut again. This has been a continuous decline in the Congress’ willingness to adequately fund this agency.

By the time this newsletter arrives, the mid-term elections will be complete and we will know the new members of Congress. Regardless of who is in control, it is incumbent upon all of us who work on behalf of seniors, survivors and the disabled to keep the real-life struggles and issues of our clients in the forefront. We must regularly keep in touch with our Congressional representatives to let them know that our clients deserve their attention and support, regardless of party affiliation.

Trainings available at your location

We continue to conduct our trainings at agencies throughout our community. If you would like us to come meet with your staff to discuss Social Security’s programs and operations, and how to more effectively help clients, please give us a call and we would be happy to schedule in-service trainings for no fees.


Consultations are always free.

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