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Changes to Social Security in 2017

Every year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) conducts a financial review that can affect benefit payment amounts, qualification rules, and other areas of Social Security disability.

When a serious medical condition stops you from working, benefits through the SSA’s disability programs can help you get by. Qualifying can sometimes be tricky though, and you may wish to seek assistance from a disability advocate or attorney even before starting your application.

Social Security Disability Insurance Changes

Qualifying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) requires a minimum of 20 to 40 work credits, dependent upon your age when you become disabled. Workers earn a maximum of four credits per year.

In 2017, you’ll have to pay Social Security taxes on at least $5,200 to earn four credits. That’s an increase of $160 from 2016. If you’ve already accumulated sufficient work credits, this particular increase doesn’t affect you, but there are some other adjustments that will affect your SSDI, including:

  • Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) – all SSDI recipients will see a 0.3% increase in their monthly SSDI payments in 2017. For the average person this means a monthly benefit raise from $1,167 in 2016 to $1,171 in 2017.
  • Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) – to qualify for SSDI, an applicant cannot have income from employment that exceeds the SGA level. The 2017 SGA for blind applicants is $1,950, while non-blind applicants can have an SGA of $1,170 per month.
  • Trial Work Period (TWP) Limit – benefit recipients can continue to receive disability even while making work attempts under a TWP. There is a monthly income limit set for a trial work month, and any month in which have earnings over the limit counts toward your total TWP. In 2016, a trial work month topped out at $810. In 2017, only those months in which you earn $840 or greater will count toward your TWP.

Supplemental Security Income Changes

Although Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients will see a small COLA increase in 2017, the financial resources limit hasn’t change:

  • Resource Limits – To receive SSI, an individual cannot have more than $2,000 in financial resources. If a couple gets SSI, with both partners receiving benefits each month, then the limit for their combined resources cannot exceed $3,000.
  • COLA – As far as the COLA increase for 2017 SSI goes, individuals can receive a maximum of $735 a month, while the combined SSI of a couple can’t be any higher than $1,103.

Applying for Benefits and Getting Help with Your Claim

Disability benefits applications can be completed at the local SSA office or online, via the SSA’s website. The online application fulfills the requirements for filing an SSDI claim, but it is only part of the process for SSI. A personal interview will still be necessary to finalize your SSI application. For this interview, you may need to visit the local office, or in some cases, you may receive a call from the SSA instead.

Before filing for either benefit program though, you may wish to consider speaking with a disability attorney or advocate. He or she can help you prepare your application and support it with appropriate evidence, thereby increasing your chances of approval. An attorney can also help you understand how the SSA’s 2017 changes may affect you specifically.


Hi there,
That may not affect your benefits as the children that you foster may not be eligible for benefits based on your benefits.

Does anyone know the typical timeframe for receiving child supports payments after the obligor has been approved for SSDI? He has received his lump sum check and his first monthly income amount from SSDI but child support has yet to receive anything and is told there is no information available on a timeframe even though the CS amount has been withheld.

Hi Tiffany,
As child support laws differ in every state, I really could not say what the timeframe for receiving child support payments after SSDI approval is.

The child will receive the back pay for same amount of time as him and the monthly payment. Go to the social security office and let them know about the problem.

If a baby had to go through withdrawal when born from a prescription drug and has some issues but no official diagnosis yet can the baby qualify for ssi?

Hi Sandra,
The child may need to have diagnosed conditions or meet the SSA's criteria for disability to be eligible for benefits.

Hi Paul,
You seem to be referring to the English disability system, I wish we were better able to help you, however we specialize in the U.S. disability system.

I'm looking for a way to supplement my income. Don't know how long I can work though. Will it affect my social security disability benefits, and how long can I work, and how much can I earn, before it affects my benefits?

Hi Arlene,
You may want to contact your local SSA office for some more information, they can provide you with the details specific to your case.

I am wondering if I should apply for disability due to being diagnosed with Heart Failure, Diabetes, and a disorder with my shoulders that causes them to voluntarily dislocated without warning. The shoulder disorder was diagnosed when I was 15 and my Diabetes was diagnosed when I was 27 and my Heart Failure was diagnosed last April at 38. I have been told that I would qualify, but do I need a lawyer, because I can't afford one. Also, I don't have enough of those rediculous points as I have not worked a lot in my adulthood.

If you don't have your work credits for Social Security then you will only get SSI and yes you can hire a Social Security lawyer but if I was you I will do it if your reconsideration is denied and the Social Security lawyer will get paid on the back in no money is needed up fron and the lawyer will only get a flat fee like $6,300 max but I would apply ASAP cause their is a few steps you may go thru before you get to a consideration have listing problem that is in the Social Security/SSI (BLUE BOOK medical problem) to get approved what's the worse that can happen? of luck to you

I read the Listings of Impairments and they have gotten, from my Cardiologist, 4 Cardiac Cath reports that show a 100% blockage of my Right Coronary Artery, with a failed Stress Test that was positive for Ischemia. I was told by SSA when they called to send my mother in law forms to fill out about my daily activities, that I was not being sent to their Dr. Could this be a good thing or a quick denial? I am 50 years old and the only job I know how to do is drive truck and due to my heart attack, they took my DOT Med Cert from me. Thanks for your time. I do not want to sound confusing, but I really do not understand this process.

Hi Rick,
I really could not say as assessing your activities of daily living are a normal part of the application process and would not indicate anything about your chances for being awarded benefits.

Hi, I have congestive heart failure atrial fibrillation cutting me up at Sea and left side bundle branch block being on disability for 3 years my check went from 11:25 and months to 860 does anyone know why. My income or lifestyle or health has not really changed all

Hi Daniel,
I really could not say why exactly your benefits changed, however if you recently enrolled in medicare or a medicare advantage plan, you may have those premiums withdrawn from your benefits check.

Hi Fran,

I am sorry to hear that. I would recommend speaking to a SSA representative.

Best Wishes,

I received cola but my children who receive from their dad did not, also I am back to being a single parent with no child support to help will my SSI go up as they used the outside support to calculate what I would receive.

Hi Maggs,
You may want to contact your local SSA office regarding this, they can give you detailed information specific to your case.

Good morning. I have been unemployed since August 12, 2008. collected unemployment until August 2010. My last full time job did lay offs which I was let go the day before my son's 1st birthday. I had only received 1 part time Seasonal position a couple of years ago. I have been in contact several times over this time to find out about applying for ssi in early retirement or collect on disability. I understand about the early retirement age being 62. But I was also injured in a car accident back in 2004 in which the joints in my right ankle has not been the same since. And about 5 years ago my chiropractor discovered in x-rays thats the vertibraes in my neck are fusing together. Since my accident my right has never been the same. It has been a good amount of pain and has been getting worse. I called the Connecticut SSA office and all the looking for information and all he kept telling me was not until I'm 62. I also addressed about my son who was diagnosed with Autism and I was told by other people that he qualifies for SSI. the guy at SSA would only repeat 1 answer to all my questions. Which is "not until your 62". What kind of people do we have working for the government and how can I enroll my son AND myself for social security. There must be exceptions to the contrary. Such as parents who make the sacrifice and be eligible to collect since they are unemployed and caring for their own Special Needs child. Thank you.

Hi Lynn,
I'm sorry to hear about that! You may be able to take early retirement at 62, however if you exceed the income and resource limits for SSI, you may not be eligible for those benefits. However, your son may be eligible for benefits based on your income and financial resources as the SSA would only use a part of those in determining if your child qualifies for benefits.

How Does The Government Expect People With SSDI And SSI Live Off Way Less Then The Housing Cost...Have A Cheap Apartment And Still Can't Afford It By Myself And Raise Two Kids As Well


I am sorry to hear that. Things can get better though.

Best Wishes,


Hi Verlois,
I am sorry to hear that. You will continue to receive his benefits if you wish.

Hi Mickey,
You do not! You can keep the benefits, but you may lose them after a Trial Work Period is up


Hi John,
You do not have to pay taxes on your SS benefits, but you should not be able to get a tax return once approved. If you're on SSDI, you do not need to worry about withdrawing large sums of money.

Will my SSDI or my Survivor benefit change if I move to a different state.
I live in Georgia. While waiting for my disability to be approved- my husband died suddenly. We have a young son. I started receiving Survivor benefits for me and my son. Over a year after my husband died - I won my disability case. Because of the total maximum family Benefit limit I can not collect all that I qualify for.
Now I may have to move back in with family out of state. Indiana or Pennsylvania are my choices.
Will moving effect my disability benefits?

Hi there,
It would not affect your benefits as SSDI is a federal program.

I'm a paraplegic from Pa and would like to know why that if I get a job and make more than 1000 dollars a month I'll get penalized and lose my disability where as people on SSI that retire can work a full time job and make a unlimited amount and still collect there ssi

Hi Maz,

You may lose your SSDI benefits if you earn more the than the 2017 SGA amount, which is $1,170/month.

Best Wishes,

My husband met the medical condition of disabled in 2014 at age 61, but did not have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI. He did receive SSI until Jan 2017, when he was told he had to file for SS Retirement. Now that he does not qualify for SSI, he does not qualify for Medicaid in Texas. Almost a year after having major heart surgery, still going through recuperation and not able to work, losing Medicaid will mean we cannot afford all the medical care he needs. We got insurance through my job but with a high deductible, which must be met before most medical care is covered, we cannot afford much more than his generic medications. Since we think he can work a few hours a day by doing a business, where he can work in the morning (when he has more energy) we are thinking of submitting a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) to set aside money for some of the startup expenses. He does want to be productive and thinks he can make some income that way. SS told us he needed to complete a Disability application in order to submit a PASS. Do you know if he doesn't get SSI approved again (his SS is $1242), are there other programs where he can still qualify for Medicaid? Thank you.

Hi Olga,
I'm sorry to hear about all that! Your husband may still be eligible for Medicaid based on income, you may want to contact the office in your state that handles Medicaid for more information.

My husband and I are separate for four years..I am and on disability also while we were married..we have been married for over ten dependents..I'm now living in my own place it's not the best not even good but I have no other source of income and his finances along with mine were used to determine my husband is on disability now..he was the head of household prior to getting on disability..because my disability is lower..can I qualify for help from him or additional income..we are very seperate in different states to be exact..I can't eveb afford to pay for a divorce and fear I was lose even more finances if I do it on my own I can barely survive on my disability...with medications bills doctor additional fees..unable to drive..I need help..please.

Hello Deborah,

I am very sorry to hear that. I would recommend speaking to a disability rights advocate or attorney.

Best Wishes,

I have been approved for social security disability. But was denied ssi because of my resources. Will I still get my disability and my back pay of disability?

Hi Rhonda,
Yes, if you were approved for SSDI, you may receive any back pay and monthly benefits that you are entitled to.

I receive social security disability. My mom passed away and I will be receiving inheritance money. How will this affect me ?

Hi Angie,

I am very sorry to hear that. If you are on SSDI, then receiving inheritance money will not affect your benefits.

Best Wishes,

Im sorry. the link is talking about retirement.. Im talking about social security disabilty. I've been on ssd for a few years and im wondering if any of the new laws will stop me from continuing to get my benefits.

The eligibility criteria has largely been unchanged, however it can vary ( they did change the criteria for HIV/AIDS patients recently due to advances in treatment). You may want to contact the SSA regarding this for more information that would be specific to your particular case.

I am on disability and receive SSI and my total income is $747 monthly. I can't even pay all of my monthly bills and they think giving me two or three dollars is going to help I didn't ask to be on disability,but it would be nice to be able to at least be able to pay for my house and car without help from family