By Mark D. Munson and Jessica A. Merkel
October 19, 2020
The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) recently released key figures for 2021 that will affect all elderly and disabled individuals who receive program benefits, including social security retirement benefits, social security disability insurance (“SSDI”) income, and supplemental security income (“SSI”). This notice summarizes the changes and their impact on various benefits.
Social Security Retirement
Recipients of social security and SSI benefits will received a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (or “COLA”) of 1.3%. Increases in social security benefits are tied to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (“CPI-W”), which is published by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. If there is a percentage increase in the CPI-W when comparing the third quarter of the current year compared with the third quarter of the previous year, there will be a corresponding percentage increase to social security benefits. The third quarter 2019 CPI-W number was less than the third quarter 2020 CPI-W number by 1.3%. Consequently, there is a 1.3% COLA for 2021 social security benefits.
Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) Income
Individuals receive social security disability insurance (“SSDI”) income if they are unable to maintain “substantial gainful employment.” In making the determination of whether someone is able to maintain substantial gainful employment, the SSA will consider whether the individual can perform any “substantial gainful activity” (or “SGA”). In 2021, SGA is defined to mean $1,310 per month. This is an increase from $1,260 per month in 2020. In other words, if an individual is capable of earning more than $1,310 per month in 2021 despite any physical or mental impairments, that particular individual will not be able to receive SSDI.
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”)
The 2021 monthly SSI amount will be $794 per month for an individual and $1,191 for a married couple. The 2020 amounts are $783 and $1,175 respectively. These figures can be reduced based on earned and unearned income.
The 2021 adjustments to Medicare have not been released yet. Ruder Ware will be sure to provide another update as soon as these important figures become available.
The laws and rules that govern Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits are complex and can be very difficult to understand. Ruder Ware’s elder law and special needs attorneys are well-versed in these laws and can help guide you through these complexities so you can better understand what benefits you are entitled to and how to maximize them as part of your long-term care, special needs, and/or estate planning.
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