The Social Security Administration has announced that, effective in 2018, there will be a 2 percent cost-of-living increase, or COLA. This means that Boone County residents who are drawing SSDI or SSI benefits will see a few more dollars, a little over $25, in their pockets each month.
This is the largest COLA increase since 2012, but, as many disabled Missourians know, $25 more a month is not going to make anyone wealthy. In fact, in many cases, the COLA will simply not be enough to offset the additional costs disabled people have to pay each year as the cost of medical care and other necessary expenses go up.
Some therefore complaint that the formula for figuring a COLA does not accurately reflect increased costs that disabled Americans have to pay and, thus, effectively forces a reduction in disability payments over time. Therefore, critics of the COLA argue that Social Security is gradually becoming a less effective means of keeping disabled people out of poverty.
Certainly, there are many areas of the Social Security system that need to be reformed. However, for now, the COLA system is what is in place and what will determine how much disability benefits increase over time to account for changes in the cost of living. The good news is that there is at least a modest increase in benefits this year.
While how much one will get in disability benefits is an important question to ask before filing SSD or SSI claims, the foundational question is whether a person qualifies for benefits in the first place, and this question is often hotly contested by the Administration. It is therefore helpful for those applying for disability benefits to consult with an experienced Social Security advocate.
Source: The Washington Post, “Social Security checks finally get an increase, but it is still not enough,” Michelle Singletary, Oct. 16, 2017.