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Will I get cost-of-living increases in my Social Security Disability check?

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Learn how your Social Security Disability check will increase with inflation and how the cost-of-living increases are calculated and paid.

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Watch the Video: “Will I get cost-of-living increases in my social security disability check?”

Cost-of-Living Adjustment to Disability Benefits

Social Security law includes a provision for cost-of-living adjustments, often called COLAs, which increase the amount of your disability benefit. The purpose of the COLAs is to help your Social Security benefits keep up with inflation.

When COLAs are Payable

You will get a cost-of- living increase in your Social Security disability check if during the previous fiscal year there was an increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. If there is no increase in the Index, then there is no increase in Social Security Disability benefits. For example, Social Security announced a 1.5 percent increase in gross disability benefits for 2014 because there was a 1.5 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index for the fiscal year ending September 2013. But, there were no increases in benefits in 2010 and 2011 because there was no increase in the Index in the prior year. COLA increases begin with the December benefit of the year the Index increases and are paid in January.

Finding Out If There Will Be a COLA

Whether or not there will be a cost-of-living adjustment and the amount of any increase are announced in the fourth quarter of each year. In addition to a public announcement, the Social Security Administration will send you a letter that shows the new amount of your Social Security disability check, including the cost-of-living increase, if any. For information about how your base disability benefit is calculated, see our article “If I Am Approved for Disability, How Much Will My Social Security Disability Benefit Be?”

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31 Comments

  1. Darlene Harless says:

    Since applying for and getting approved for SSI, I have more disabilities, is there any way to get a raise from SSI? I receive
    700. a month and that just pays for my prescriptions. There is nothing left after that. It just seems so unfair that I can’t contribute to our house payment and we live from paycheck to paycheck. My husband works full time so that cuts out any help from social services or medicaid. I have had 6 spinal surgeries and the last one which was a major fusion failed. I am physically unable to work now, and am in chronic pain all of the time. If I can somehow qualify for an increase in my SSI could you please let me know? Thank you very much,
    Darlene Harless

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Darlene,

      Neither Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) pays benefits based on the number of disabling conditions you have, so a decline in your health will not increase your benefits.

      You mention that you are receiving SSI and you are getting $700 a month, so it sounds as if you are receiving SSI. But, you also say you are not eligible for Medicaid. Medicaid eligibility requirements vary from state to state, but often, if you are eligible for SSI, you are eligible for Medicaid by virtue of your SSI eligibility. If you are receiving SSI, I wonder if you have applied for Medicaid since you became eligible for SSI.You might also check with large pharmacy chains or grocery store chains with pharmacies. Many provide very low cost prescriptions of some of the more common generic medications.

      If you are receiving Social Security Disability (SSD), then after twenty-four months of benefits, you will be eligible for Medicare, which includes the option of enrolling for presecription coverage.

      Best regards,

      Kay

  2. zerick waites says:

    I was found under the adult disable child with the year dated 8/91 will they pay me back pay from that year? I am all ready on SSI

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Zerick,

      Your eligibility for disabled adult child’s benefits will begin the later of twelve months before your date of application or the date that your parent became eligible for Social Security benefits or died. Your Social Security back pay will be reduced by the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) you received for the same months as your retroactive Social Security eligibility.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  3. Allison says:

    I became disabled at age 20. From what i understand disibility is dertermined by what you made while you were working. Well i was in high school working weekends in a resturant. I collect disibility, SSI, and SSP and bring in a total of $526.20 a month. I do not collect the full amount of SSI because i still live with my parents. My soon to be husband makes $10.40 an hour and works 40 hour weeks. He also still lives with his parents. I was told that when I marry him or if I move in with him, his income will be factored into what i earn and it’s possible to lose some more of my income. I feel it is impossible to move forward with my life. I know I can get section 8 housing and my SSI will increase if I move out, but i would have to live alone, so his income is not factored in. I need help in getting my disability higher, I do not think it’s far to judge what i earned in high school as to what i should earn for the rest of my life. I am young and I can not work. I still want to live with my soon to be husband, and have kids one day. How can I ever afford a normal lifestyle?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Allison,

      Being disabled does pose financial challenges.

      If you marry and live with your husband, his income will be evaluated to determine whether you are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and, if so, for how much. If you have children, part of his income will be allocated to the support of the children. This means that if you are initially ineligible for SSI because of his income, you might qualify later once you have children. If you live together and are not married, his income will not affect your SSI; however, if you do not pay your share of the rent, utilities, and food, you will continue to have some reduction in the amount of your SSI.

      Marriage and your husband’s income will not affect your Social Security Disability (SSDI). The amount of SSDI you receive is based on earnings your have lost, that is, earnings you had before disability began–not on family income or on potential future earnings.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

      • Allison says:

        But my judgement was made on the income I collected while waiting tables on the weekends during high school. Is there any legal action I can take to raise my social security disability?

  4. Michelle says:

    I am 26 years old, and have been on permanent disability for a few years. I am also on SSI, but since I lived at home with my parents the amount was reduced. I have since moved out, and was hoping you could help guide me in getting the SSI increase. I was told that my amount would increase once I lived away from home, to compensate for the room & board, etc, that my parents helped with. Also, is there an increase in the SSDI income now that I’m out on my own? Thank you in advance, your website has been a real help!

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Michelle,

      If you are now paying all your shelter and food expenses (with or without food stamps), your SSI will go up two months after you start to pay your own expenses. You need to make an appointment with the Social Security Administration to report the change. Take your rent receipt to prove your address and to prove the fact your are paying your own rent. Your SSDI will not go up.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  5. Stephanie says:

    Dear Kay,
    I am 21 years old living with my parents and am receiving both SSI and SSDI. I plan on moving out hopefully sometime in the next few months. My only problem is I feel like I’m not getting nearly enough money to move out on my own. I had a daughter almost one year ago and was wondering if I could claim her on my disability and/or get an increase to better support her? Also wondering if my SSI would go up once I move out and how much. I already got an increase a few months ago because my mom, my representative payee spoke with the state and informed them I am helping out with bills. I receive 275 for SSI and 466 for SS.
    Any information you give me would be greatly appreciated! Thank you.
    -Steph

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Stephanie,

      Your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will not go up when you move out because you are already receiving the maximum amount, given the amount of your Social Security. You might investigate subsidized housing and/or food stamps to make such a move possible.

      Your Social Security Disability benefit (SSDI) is fairly low, so it is possible that no dependents benefits are payable; however, you should inquire. If benefits are payable, they would have to be paid to the person who is taking care of the child. Also, as long as you have a representative payee yourself, you cannot be payee for your child even if she lives with you.

      I recommend checking with Social Security before the end of the month in order not to potentially lose benefits for your daughter. The first thing to do is to contact Social Security to determine whether your family maximum is higher than your Social Security primary insurance amount (your benefit). If it is not, no dependent benefits are payable. If it is higher, then the next step is for you and the person who has custody of your daughter (or your mother, if you do) to submit a request to have benefits paid. If the child was born after the first month for which you received benefits, then there is a maximum of six months retroactivity. If she was born before you applied and you listed her on your application, you could request more retroactivity. It would be granted only if your Social Security file shows that the Social Security Administration never contacted you about completing the final paperwork for dependent benefits (that is, you didn’t fail to purse benefits back then).

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  6. Stephanie says:

    Also I know I am getting 275 because SS counts my SSD except 20 bucks.. so the most ssi i could get is 721-446=275… so is that all I can ever get or can it increase?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Stephanie,

      Your total income–Social Security and SSI–will go up annually in years that there is a cost-of-living increase. Increases are given if the consumer price index for the prior year shows an increase. Increases if any are announced in December and are seen in the checks received in January.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  7. Jamie says:

    Hi I was wondering if i got married to my kids mom would my SSI benefits be increased?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jamie,

      If you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), your benefits will not increase because of your marriage. SSI is paid only for the disabled person. If your children’s mother has income and you get married, her income will be considered in determining your SSI payment amount. A portion of her income will be allotted for her support and for the support of your children. Also, if her income is earned from work, part of it will be excluded as a work incentive. If any is left over after the exclusions and allotments, that amount will reduce your SSI payment. You could make an appointment with Social Security and give them the amount of her income and of any income your children have, so that they can give you an estimate of the impact marriage would have on your SSI benefits.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  8. Javier says:

    Hi I’m getting 597 for SS and 65 for ssi I live withy parents… I was planning moving to a studio renting at 550 if I move in and live alone would my SS go up since I wouldn’t make it with the money receiving right now?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Javier,

      If you move to live alone and pay your own expenses and you have no other income, your SSI could go up. Between the two, Social Security and SSI, you can receive $741 gross. If you have no other income and $597 is your Social Security before withholding for Medicare premiums, then your SSI could go up to $144. Note that the increase would occur two months after the change. If you moved out on April 30 and paid all your own expenses in your own apartment in May, your SSI would increase in July.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  9. Christy says:

    Hi Kay,

    I realize that SSD monthly payments go up only if there is a cost of living increase even though the disabled struggle even more with the increased cost of everything anyway every year with things such as food, gas, medicine, bills etc.

    I think it was around $5.00 or something ridiculously low considering cereal cost that much.

    I understand yearly you will not always get an increase, but is there a way I can estimate what my payment will be in 20 years?

    Is there a estimate calculation somewhere that if you are earning X now and 12 of the 20 years there is an increase, you can estimate that your monthly payment will be …………

    Also, has the cost of living increases in the past ever amounted to anything that could actually help with “our real life cost of living expenses?”

    Thank you, Christy

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Christy,

      Cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) are tied to the increases in the consumer price index. If there is inflation in one year that results in an increase, then the following year there is a COLA. The largest increase since 1984 was 5.4%; some years there has been no increase. You can go to the following link http://www.ssa.gov/cola/automatic-cola.htm, calculate the average COLA from 1984-2014, and use that as the multiplier for each year for twenty years in the future. Note, however, the result may not match what really happens.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  10. bo says:

    Will SSI increase moving from al to az?if so how much

  11. Patrice says:

    I was just told by a rep from SS that my SSI will not change if the cost of living has gone up where I live. My roommate has gone up on the bills because the Mortgage went up and I need to pay a little more I receive 481 from SSI is this true? I also wanted to move into my own place but I can’t afford to receiving that amount. But will my SSI go up if the cost go up are if I move into my own?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Patrice,

      An individual’s expenses going up will not increase a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment. If you pay your share of the shelter costs (mortgage, taxes and utilities, excluding phone) and buy your own food or pay your share of the food, your benefit can go up to $721. If there are two in the household, your share is one-half. If you move into your own place and pay all the shelter and food costs yourself (government-subsidized housing and food stamps don’t count to reduce SSI), your benefit will also go up.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  12. Carla west says:

    My son is 15 and just got eligible for SSI but due to myself working he does not qualify for the full benefits. Why does he not qualify and why aren’t my utilities, car note and rent deducted from my income? Also, I was told that they go by my GROSS INCOME instead of my NET PAY, I’m just confused and need a better understanding. Thanks

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Carla,

      Expenses do not determine Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment amounts.Parents are deemed (considered) financially responsible for their children; therefore, after a certain amount of your earnings are set aside for your support and the support of any other minor children you have, the remainder is considered available for support of your disabled child. The allocation amounts for a parent’s support are the same for all parents.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  13. Whitney says:

    Ok, my questions are kind of confusing because I don’t understand a lot about social security benefits or ssi. Ok, my father started receiving Social Security benefits when I was about 12-13 years old, and my mother started getting benefit checks (for me bc I was a minor) well she got 2 regular checks and then one very small check, she went to the office and they said that my father was over paid so they cut my check out, well she always gets a tax form at the end of the year showing that taxes was took from the checks ,that I DID NOT receive. Well my dad got all the money they over paid him, paid back really fast and they still never gave my benefits back and we tried going down there and they won’t take the time to even try to look. I recently signed up for SSI and there was a lady that called me and got more info off me, she asked about me receiving benefits from my dad, and I tried explaining this to her, she said I was entitled to the money I never received , well about 10 minutes later the phone call dropped and I didn’t know her exact number and I called and they couldn’t transfer me back to the lady, and none of the others I have talked to tried to help. This has bothered me and my mother for years, and before my dad passed away it did him as well. If there is any info you can give me on this situation, it would be greatly appreciated!! I’m sorry I tried explaining this the best I could. Thanks

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Whitney,

      Please tell me the following and I will see if I can provide some guidance about whether you might be eligible for additional dependent benefits on your father’s record.

      1. How old are you now?
      2. Are you disabled?
      3. If so, how old were you when you became disabled?
      4. If you are disabled, are you getting Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or do you have a pending claim?

      I can clarify the tax withholding now. Taxation is on a gross benefit before collection of an overpayment because you “got” the money and it was used to pay a debt. (It is the same as if you actually received the money and used it to pay off a credit card.) Also, if your father was overpaid, then you probably were not eligible for benefits the same months for which he was overpaid, so you were probably paying back your own overpayment.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  14. Jan says:

    My husband is 63 and retired from the government in 2009 after 37 years of service. He did not pay into social security but had met his quarters from previous part time jobs as well as the Navy Reserves where he retired after 20 yrs. in 1997 and is receiving a small retirement pension. He is also receiving a small social security check. Since I will be getting a disability check, will my husband be eligible to receive a spousal social security check?

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