True Link blog

New Year, New Increase in Social Security Benefits

Published by:
Amanda Lotz
January 10, 2019

Did you know that ringing in 2019 coincided with a 2.8 percent increase to monthly Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments? One of the reasons Social Security and SSI are so essential for those who rely on them is that, as the cost of living rises, adjustments are made to the amount that is paid out.  Every year, the government re-evaluates the cost of living based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and inflation to determine if benefits should be increased. These cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) affect Social Security and SSI benefits.  

Here’s what you need to know for the new year.

SSI Benefits Bump

This year’s 2.8 percent increase will mark the largest gain since 2012. That number is the result of calculations made by Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics based on the Consumer Price Index and inflation. What does this mean if you or someone you serve is an SSI recipient? You should expect an increase for the month of January, and you may have already seen it!

According to the SSA, more than 67 million Americans will see an increase in their benefits in 2019. SSI beneficiaries may receive an increase in their monthly payment up to $21.

Table: New Monthly Maximum Federal SSI Amounts for 2019

Learn more on the SSA's website about how it calculated these increases. To find out more about individual benefits, visit the my Social Security website. Social Security recipients should be sure to save any paperwork relevant to the adjustment so that they can share it with their guardian or trustee.

Social Security Adjustment

Some people receive both Social Security and SSI. Social Security is also increasing 2.8 percent based on COLA. In fact, you may have already noticed an increase in the social security benefits you or your clients receive. Because these benefits are normally paid on the first of the month, and January 1 was a holiday, this adjustment should have been reflected in the last payment of December 2018. The average retiree will see a monthly benefit increase from $1,422 to $1,461, while the average retired worker with a disability will notice an increase from $1,200 to $1,234.

Table: Estimated Average Monthly Social Security Benefits

The maximum amount that an individual with a disability may receive in a given month, known as the disability threshold, also increased from $1,180 per month to $1,220 for people who aren’t blind and from $1,970 to $2,040 for people who are blind.

Table: Social Security Disability Thresholds
Source: Data from the Social Security Administration's fact sheet: COLA Facts 2019

What this means for beneficiaries

While this boost will impact millions of Americans, a 2.8 boost in benefits payments is modest compared to the rate of inflation, and according to AARP, these increases may not be enough to keep pace with the rise in costs of health, prescription drug, utility and housing costs. This is where adequate budgeting tools can become so beneficial, to help many Americans manage rising costs.

Government benefits are crucial to the well-being of older adults and people with disabilities. In fact, the Social Security Administration (SSA) estimates that Americans receive about one trillion dollars in Social Security benefits. What is even more striking is that 48 percent of married couples and 69 percent of unmarried beneficiaries receive 50 percent or more of their income from Social Security. These benefits can also be lifesaving for the over 10 million Americans with disabilities who receive them. The number of adults with a disability will continue to grow; one in four current 20-year-olds will have a disability before they turn 67.

True Link partners with professionals serving recipients of Social Security and SSI
Representative payees, guardians, and fiduciaries

Representative payees around the country choose True Link Cards to help beneficiaries access their spending money more quickly, safely, and easily. Similarly, clients served by guardians and fiduciaries can enjoy greater independence with the True Link Card. Administrators of the card, who need to, can manage spending and budgeting for clients, all from one user-friendly online dashboard, providing card users with increased quality of life and more convenience.

Special needs trusts

Special needs trusts (SNTs) enhance the quality of life for people with a disability. True Link partners with nonprofit organizations, banks, trust companies, corporate trustees, independent fiduciaries, and families across the country who administer SNTs. We design technology and financial services solutions for trust administrators who serve clients with special needs. True Link Financial Advisors, our investment advisory arm, dedicates its more than 150 years of financial expertise to serving thousands of pooled and individual special needs trustees and beneficiaries throughout the United States. Services for trust administrators also include the True Link Card, which is the only administrator-managed prepaid card for special needs trusts referenced in the Social Security Administration’s POMS. The True Link Card simplifies disbursements and helps to protect benefits. For the latest POMS updates, visit the POMS reference tool.

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