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Social Security Administration to increase benefit amounts

The Social Security Administration recently announced an increase in benefit amounts for people who receive checks through Social Security retirement, Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income.

The benefit increase is mandated automatically by a cost-of-living-adjustment that is tied to inflation. More than 8 million SSI recipients will get slightly bigger checks starting December 31, and other Social Security recipients will see higher dollar amounts in January 2020.

One of the first questions people ask a lawyer when they are trying to sign up for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income is, "How much will I get?" It's a good question to ask, but it's not easy to answer.

The Social Security Administration uses complicated formulas for determining benefit amounts. For Social Security Disability, the benefit amounts are based on the applicant's lifetime average earnings covered by Social Security. The amount can be affected by other factors, as well. For example, a person who is collecting benefits through workers' compensation or another program may see their benefit amount reduced. Likewise, people collecting a government pension may see their benefits reduced.

Supplemental Security Income uses a different set of formulas. With the new increase, the maximum benefit will go from $771 to $783 per month for an individual.

Cost-of-living adjustments, sometimes abbreviated as COLA, are made when the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics reports a rise in the Consumer Price Index, meaning a rise in inflation.

An attorney can help people at many stages of the process when they are seeking SSI or SSD benefits. By working with an attorney early in the process, applicants can get a better idea of what to expect. They can also increase their chances of success on their first application.

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