Persons receiving Social Security Disability benefits will see a little more money in their checks next year, but some say it’s not enough. Thanks to a cost of living increase recently announced by the federal government, disability benefits will increase by 1.7 percent next year. The bump is likely, however, to be outpaced by rising Medicare premiums.

“The increase, which starts in January, is tied to a measure of inflation released…by the Social Security Administration,” the Associated Press explains. Specifically, the adjustment is based on a comparable rise in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), which the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates on a monthly and annual basis. The new increase is based on the annual change.
The SSA makes Social Security Disability payments to persons who are unable to work for a year or more under two programs. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments are available for adults and children who are disabled or blind and have limited income and resources. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is available to disabled persons, their spouses and children, regardless of income and resources, if the disabled person has made sufficient payments into the Social Security system.
Close to 9 million people receive Social Security Disability benefits each year. In September, the average monthly payment to beneficiaries under both programs was $1,111.27.
According to the AP, the newest increase “shows that inflation has been relatively low over the past year, resulting in one of the smallest increases in Social Security payments since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975.” This year, beneficiaries saw a 3.6 percent cost of living increase.

Many Social Security beneficiaries, under both the Disability benefits programs and the federal retirement program, fear that rising Medicare costs will eclipse the cost of living raise. In an op-ed for Marketwatch arguing that CPI-W does not accurately gauge costs for seniors, economist Irwin Kellner called the increase “an insult.”
“[A] large part of the 2013 adjustment will be eaten up by increases in Medicare Part B premiums, which are deducted from Social Security payments,” Kellner explained. Medicare is the federal health insurance system that covers persons with certain disabilities and those over the age of 65. “The Medicare trustees think these premiums for prescription drugs will rise a whopping 9% next year,” Kellner added.
Despite the scuttlebutt over the increase, the Social Security Disability benefits programs provide vital assistance to persons who are unable to work for a year or more due to a physical or mental impairment, or combination of impairments. A person seeking benefits is well advised to obtain the counsel of an experienced Social Security Disability attorney, who can assist a client in the claims process by gathering the evidence necessary to support the claim, filing the claim on the client’s behalf and representing the client on appeal, if necessary. For persons already receiving benefits, a disability lawyer can assist in complying with continuing disability reviews and re-determinations and appeal any changes to monthly benefits based on these reviews.
Related blog posts:
In Social Security Disability Cases, Don’t Give Up – Rife v. Commissioner of Social Security

A Good Social Security Lawyer Doesn’t Allow Reasonable Minds to Differ – Smith v. Astrue

How Hermann Law Group’ Own Stephanie Burkland Changed the Way that the Social Security Administration Does Business