Changes to Social Security in 2017

Submitted by Deanna on

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.

Blog comments

Crystal (not verified)

Is there a special

Is there a special circumstance exception
To SGA limits for people who are parent providers with IHSS and have exempt unearned income status.?

Sun, 10/01/2017 - 02:53 Permalink

In reply to by Crystal (not verified)

Hi Crystal,

Hi Crystal,
As far as I know, the only modification to SGA for individuals is are blind, and that is a higher SGA than those who are sighted.

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 09:10 Permalink
Kimberly (not verified)

I became disabled when my now

I became disabled when my now 27 year old son was 16 he himself applied mental health reasons did not work hardly at all before 21 not even now hes married she gets paid well he takes care of kids now going thru a divorce he applied but denied did not pay in enough before 21 but his dr will say he was disabled before 18 can he draw off me now

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 04:36 Permalink

In reply to by Kimberly (not verified)

Hi Kimberly,

Hi Kimberly,
Yes, your son may be eligible for benefits under your work record as a disabled adult child if you are receiving SSDI.

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 09:21 Permalink
Chris (not verified)

I know someone receiving SSDI

I know someone receiving SSDI. He receives Medicade for medical. He is able to run around and do whatever he wants. He makes extra money giving speeches at various schools, libraries, etc etc. in Nothern WI. He is paid cash and doesn't report this. In addition his mother passed away and left him a significant amount of money. I was told by him that non of this needs to be reported to the government. I also told him that I think what he is doing is fraud. What do you think?

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 15:20 Permalink

In reply to by Chris (not verified)

Hi Chris,

Hi Chris,

Social Security fraud isn't as widespread as you might think. If he is on SSDI he can receive an inheritance and not have it affect his benefits. You are also able to work while receiving SSDI.

However, if he is not reporting additional money to the SSA, you would need physical evidence of this to help prove fraud.

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 09:31 Permalink
John McCloud (not verified)

My 3 yr old daughter has DS

My 3 yr old daughter has DS.My f2f is a stay at home mom and I work full time. We also have a 2nd child that's a yr younger. If I make anything over $2,000 a month why do the cut it off.

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 01:18 Permalink

In reply to by John McCloud (not verified)

Hi John,

Hi John,
Disability benefits are based off of income, and for children they assign a part of the family's income as theirs for the purpose of calculating benefits.

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 16:47 Permalink
Yesenia (not verified)

My daughter receives ssi due

My daughter receives ssi due to she was born at 1lb. I quit my job because of that. I have my 401k and was wondering if I withdraw that money if it will affect.

Tue, 10/24/2017 - 13:55 Permalink

In reply to by Yesenia (not verified)

Hi Yesenia,

Hi Yesenia,
That may affect your benefits as SSI is based in income and resources, and cashing out a 401k would be considered as income.

Wed, 10/25/2017 - 09:36 Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Hi there,

Hi there,
I have been collecting SSDI since 2007. I have a part-time job (15 hours/week). The retail company I work for offers bonuses that have to be taxed at the end of the year. The bonuses have cash value, but they arent actual earnings. They are essential bonus money that can be redeemed for products my company sells. My question is, are bonuses counted towards earnings and will they be counted as a trial work month? It isnt money I earned, but was gifted. I hope this makes sense.

Tue, 10/24/2017 - 17:47 Permalink

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Hi there,

Hi there,
That may be considered income, you may want to check in with the SSA regarding this.

Wed, 10/25/2017 - 09:45 Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Bryan

Thank you for the fast

Thank you for the fast response. I did have a follow-up question. My company is now starting to offer 401k to part time employees. The company matches up to 6%. Does this match count towards my monthly gross earnings? I have never particiapted in a 401k before so i am not sure how this shows on my check (if at all). Thank you in advance.

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 17:45 Permalink

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Hi there,

Hi there,
It may be considered income if you withdraw it, however you may want to check with the SSA regarding this.

Fri, 11/10/2017 - 12:50 Permalink
Ebony (not verified)

I got an increase on my

I got an increase on my benefits & I want to help someone that helped me in the past. Is the any way i can get an amount of my benefits put into that person's account monthly?

Mon, 11/06/2017 - 05:13 Permalink

In reply to by Ebony (not verified)

Hi Ebony,

Hi Ebony,
It's not possible to split your benefits with someone else. They'll only be deposited into one account.

Mon, 11/06/2017 - 11:20 Permalink
Bridgette Spillman (not verified)

Iam on ssi abd receive 645

Iam on ssi abd receive 645 and then I get ssi 108 I don't understand why I only get this little amount of money. I also have custody of my grandchild and they give me nothing for him

Fri, 11/10/2017 - 09:31 Permalink

In reply to by Bridgette Spillman (not verified)

Hi Bridgette,

Hi Bridgette,
You may want to contact the SSA regarding this as they would be able to explain your benefit amounts and what you would be eligible for.

Fri, 11/10/2017 - 12:51 Permalink
Travis (not verified)

I was disabled when I was 20

I was disabled when I was 20 years old I received SSI until my father went on his Social Security they then switched me to SSDI under his work credits as I do not have enough work credits as a person receiving SSDI under his parents work history if I have a child will I be able to get a check for my child under the same work credits as I am on SSDI

Thu, 11/16/2017 - 06:09 Permalink
Elizabeth (not verified)

I rent a room from my brother

I rent a room from my brother in his home so they cut my disability check from $721 to only $494 but I do not understand why because its very hard to live on. Anyone know why

Thu, 11/16/2017 - 15:01 Permalink
Layvinia renay reed (not verified)

I draw disibilty but I can&

I draw disibilty but I can't make it on just that can I work part time to help cover my bills

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 11:06 Permalink

In reply to by Layvinia renay reed (not verified)

Hi There,

Hi There,

I am so sorry to hear that. You are able to collect disability and work at the same time, however your monthly income cannot exceed the 2017 SGA limit.

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 09:15 Permalink
Laurie (not verified)

I have been on SSDI. After I

I have been on SSDI. After I was on it for about 5 years the SSA had me go for a new review to see if I was still qualified to receive benefits. I'm wondering if this is a common practice and if I will have to have other reviews down the road?

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 21:18 Permalink
Mike congdon (not verified)

I get ssdi can I work or will

I get ssdi can I work or will they stop my benefits or is there a cap

Sun, 12/03/2017 - 12:43 Permalink

In reply to by Mike congdon (not verified)

Hi there,

Hi there,
You may be able to work, however it's a good idea to contact the SSA regarding this, you can get in touch with them by calling them at 1-800-772-1213.

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 12:28 Permalink
Michael eaton (not verified)

I just got a new job and make

I just got a new job and make about 600 a month and have ssi they are lowering it a substantial amount when the reason for getting my job was because I was just still getting bye what can I do to increase or stop the 200 something from being taken

Mon, 12/18/2017 - 00:43 Permalink

In reply to by Michael eaton (not verified)

Hi Michael,

Hi Michael,
If you're making 600 a month your SSI benefits will be reduced by as you said around $250--the way to avoid this is to not work.

Tue, 12/19/2017 - 15:20 Permalink
Greg (not verified)

If you been married for 6

If you been married for 6 year's and seperated for 5.5 year's does the other person gets disability payment also

Thu, 12/21/2017 - 14:14 Permalink

In reply to by Greg (not verified)

HI Greg,

HI Greg,
Marriage for that length of time may not affect their eligibility for benefits.

Tue, 12/26/2017 - 12:09 Permalink
Rita (not verified)

I'm new to Bridgeport

I'm new to Bridgeport but my SSI isn't enough for me to afford housing can I get additional assistance

Mon, 12/25/2017 - 12:14 Permalink
Heidi (not verified)

If your income is less this

If your income is less this year than last year, will your disability benefits increase?

Fri, 12/29/2017 - 12:04 Permalink

In reply to by Heidi (not verified)

Hi Heidi,

Hi Heidi,
If you're receiving disability benefits based off of income, they may increase as SSI benefits are dependent on income.

Tue, 01/02/2018 - 16:39 Permalink
Mary (not verified)

I want to be self-employed.

I want to be self-employed. If I am a sole proprietor, will I get messed up by my business expenses being held as earnings. I was told to be a C-Corp and pay myself a salary if I am self-employed so it does not mess with my SSDI. However, I don't think I am going to be making that much money. But would I end up with a Trial Work Period if self-employed?

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 00:06 Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I am attempting to sign up

I am attempting to sign up for disability today & started classes 1 day ago for CNA(Certified Nursing Assistant), can I take this class & still be approved for disability because I am attending these, I qualified for this program through the Dislocated Workers Program, they assist with all costs of the class. Any & all information on this is greatly appreciated.

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 09:33 Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

If I'm waiting on a

If I'm waiting on a disabilaty decision will they deny me if i foster a child? How does that work?

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 18:49 Permalink

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

HI there,

HI there,
Your status as a foster parent may not affect the SSA's decision about your disability benefits.

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 15:49 Permalink
Elaine (not verified)

I am getting disability

I am getting disability already. So now my husband has applied. Is it true that between both of us we can only make so much a month

Wed, 01/17/2018 - 02:28 Permalink
Rocane (not verified)

I am getting SSI but I turned

I am getting SSI but I turned 62 had to apply for Social security but SSI is deducting my Social security so I only get 750. A month

Sat, 01/20/2018 - 01:02 Permalink
Roxane (not verified)

Why are they counting my

Why are they counting my Social Security benefit as a income I am on SSI it's next to nothing i get from social security benefit and they still only give me 750.A month I paid into social security

Sat, 01/20/2018 - 01:18 Permalink

In reply to by Roxane (not verified)

Hi Roxane,

Hi Roxane,

I really can't say for sure, you might want to check with the SSA regarding that.

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 09:33 Permalink
Debbie (not verified)

I’m on disability, how much

I’m on disability, how much money can I make on a month to month basis?

Thu, 02/01/2018 - 14:46 Permalink

In reply to by Debbie (not verified)

Hi Debbie,

Hi Debbie,
It's a good idea to check in with the SSA in cases like this as they would have detailed information about your case.

Mon, 02/05/2018 - 17:05 Permalink
DJL (not verified)

Hi I am contacting you cause

Hi I am contacting you cause I have an adopted parent holding on to my SSDI Card and she won't give me my card when it has my own name on the Visa card so I want to ask if you can send me my own SSDI Card and close the one that is in her wallet. Please and Thank you.

Sun, 02/18/2018 - 21:14 Permalink

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