Report: No COLA for SSI Recipients

According to a recent news article from the Glen Rose Reporter, there will not be a cost of living adjustment (COLA) increase in the amount of money Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries receive each month.

wealthThe Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is disability benefits program the the United States Social Security Administration (SSA) and is designed to provide monthly benefits for children living with disabilities in a low income household. The Supplemental Security Income program is also for elderly or blind disabled Americans. Unlike the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, a person seeking SSI must only prove they are disabled and have a total household income that is below the guideline’s maximum.

There is no need for the claimant to have worked enough consecutive quarters in the last several years to have earned enough quarterly credits. The reason for this is because the Supplemental Security Income program was designed to assist those who have never worked due to their disability.

Social Security Administration has been around the past 60 or so years, and the disability insurance program has been around for almost that long, and there have been few changes. However, one of the major changes designed to help recipients make ends meet was an annual cost of living allowance increase that was created by Congress in 1975.

Since Congress created the cost of living allowance increase for the SSI program, there have been increases each year in all but two years. The first year there was no COLA increase was 2010, and the second time was the following year. As there will be no cost of living allowance increase in 2016, this will constitute the third time in program history with no increase.

The cost of living increase is not a major increase in monthly benefits, but it is designed to help with inflation. Last year, the increase was 1.7 percent, and the year before it was 1.4 percent. The reason for the increase not being made this year has to do with the way in which the COLA is calculated. Congress enacted an automatic increase based upon the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). This is basically tied to the cost of living number for low-income workers living in major cities across the country. The formula uses several factors, including cost of food, the cost of heating and electricity (energy), healthcare costs, entertainment costs, education expenses, and transportation costs.

The cost of transportation for low-income workers in the past decade has been the major controlling factor in determining the CPI-W, because the cost of gas has been so high. As you may have noticed, this past year the cost of gas at the pump has fallen substantially, and this translated to a lower CPI-W figure, which is why there will be no increase based upon the COLA this year. This issue and the calculation of the COLA is rather complicated, and you should speak with your Boston disability attorney to gain a further understanding of the situation.

If you or a loved one is seeking Social Security Disability Insurance benefits in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.

Additional Resources:

No cost-of-living increase for Social Security Benefits in 2016, December 25, 2015, Glen Rose Reporter, By Melissa Holmes

More Blog Entries:

Social Security Disability Claims Process, Jan. 23, 2015, Boston Social Security Disability Insurance Lawyer Blog

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