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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.

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.

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,