The Social Security Administration (SSA) reviews financial data and publishes a list of updates every year. These updates include adjustments to maximum benefit amounts, work credits, and other financial thresholds. Whether you’re now receiving benefits or planning to apply in 2017, you’ll need to be aware of the SSA’s new figures.
Work Credit Minimum Earnings
Social Security is an insurance program to which workers contribute over the course of their employment. Contributions are made by paying Social Security taxes, and these taxes accumulate as “work credits.” You must typically have between 20 and 40 credits available in order to receive disability benefits.
Work credits are earned for each calendar quarter of employment in which you make a specific amount of money. In 2016, you needed net earnings of $1260 for one work credit. In 2017, that amount has increased to $1,300.
Substantial Gainful Activity
To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you cannot have earnings from employment that exceed what the SSA considers “substantial gainful activity” or SGA. In 2016, the SGA threshold was set at $1,130 per month for non-blind benefit recipients and $1,820 for the blind. In 2017, SGA for the blind and non-blind recipients increases with the threshold now set at $1,170 per month for non-blind recipients, and $1,950 for recipients who are blind.
SSDI Maximum Benefits
There is a maximum benefit amount established each year for SSDI benefits. In 2016, the maximum you could receive was $2,663 per month. Because there was a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) determined by Consumer Price Index studies for 2017, the maximum amount of monthly SSDI will actually increase slightly, to $2,687. This increase is a standard adjustment made according to Social Security regulations.
Supplemental Security Income Eligibility Thresholds
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are only available to applicants that do not exceed financial resource limits. The total income and assets allowable for SSI recipients in 2016 was $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple in which both partners received SSI. In 2017, these financial limits remain the same.
SSI Maximum Benefits
The maximum benefit amount available through the SSI program also increases for 2017, due to COLA-related Social Security regulations. The maximum benefit an individual can receive is $735 per month, and a couple cannot receive more than $1,103 in combined monthly benefits, if both partners get SSI.
Trial Work Period Earnings
SSDI recipients can test their ability to go back to work without losing disability benefits. This is done through a formal Trial Work Period with the SSA. A trial work period is nine months total, but only those months in which you earn a certain amount count toward your trial work allotment.
In 2016, any month in which you earned $810 counted. In 2017 however, only a month in which you earn $840 or greater counts toward your total trial work period.
Summary SSDI and SSI Changes for 2017
The l COLA increase in 2017 means most SSDI and/or SSI recipients and applicants will see a change in their monthly benefits. Other changes in the SSA’s benefit standards actually mean beneficiaries can earn more from employment and still receive disability benefits.
The following table summarizes adjustments for the 2017 calendar year.
|Work Credit Minimum Earnings||$1,260/quarter||$1,300/quarter||$40 increase to earn one work credit|
|Substantial Gainful Activity||$1,130/mo. (non-blind) $1,820/mo. (blind)||$1,170/mo. (non-blind) $1,950/mo. (blind)||A $40 increase for non-blind recipients and a $130 increase for blind recipients.|
|SSDI Maximum Benefits||$2,639/mo||$2,687/mo.||$48 per month in maximum benefits available.|
|SSI Eligibility Thresholds||$2,000 (individual) $3,000 (couple)||$2,000 (individual) $3,000 (couple)||No change|
|SSI Maximum Benefits||$733/mo. (individual) $1,10o/mo. (couple)||$735/mo. (individual) $1,103/mo. (couple)||a $2 increase for individuals and a $3 increase for couples.|
|Trial Work Period Earnings||$810/mo.||$840/mo.||$30 increase in allowed earnings before a month counts toward Trial Work Period|