Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to increase in 2018

The federal government announced a COLA, which is short for cost-of-living adjustment, of two percent to certain federal benefits, most prominently the Social Security programs like SSDI and SSI disability benefits.

The COLA, which is determined by an established accounting formula tied to the country's Consumer Price Index, was expected to increase a little bit more than what actually did, at least as of this summer. Still, the COLA is the sharpest adjustment upward since 2012, when the COLA hiked benefit payouts by 3.6 percent.

Some experts complain that the COLA formula simply does not adequately account for how much daily life costs people who are on disability, including those of very limited means who rely on Supplemental Security Income for help paying basic expenses.

For instance, despite this year's COLA being a significant increase relative to other years, the reality is that if someone were to make $735 a month in SSI benefits this year, which is the maximum for an individual, then that person will make about $750 a month in 2018, putting $15 more in his or her pocket each month. While certainly every little bit helps, many disabled residents of Stockton could rightly contend the increase is simply not enough to cover their normal expenses.

In any event, though, knowing how much one can expect in benefits each month is important, but a person also has to be able to qualify as disabled in the first place in order to collect benefits. Many Californians may be better off doing so with the help of an experienced disability attorney.

Source: USA Today, "Social Security benefits to get 2% boost in 2018," Nathan Bomey, Oct 13, 2017.

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