In a press release issued 10/13/17, SSA announced a 2% cost-of-living adjustment (“COLA”) for 2018. The average Social Security disability benefit will increase $24 from $1,173 to $1,197 per month, while the federal SSI maximum will increase from $735 to $750 per month for individuals, and from $1,103 to $1,125 per month for couples.
Additionally, beginning January 2018, the threshold for what is considered “Substantial Gainful Activity“ (“SGA”) will be increased from $1,170 to $1,180 per month for the non-blind, and from $1,950 to $1,970 per month for the blind.
The threshold for a “Trial Work Period” (“TWP”) will also increase from $840 per month to $850 per month.
Another important adjustment, based on the increase in average wages, will be the maximum amount of earnings subject to Social Security tax, which will increase from $127,200 to $128,700.
The maximum allowable attorney’s fee has not changed and has been capped at $6,000 for several years. However, the maximum “service fee” that SSA can deduct from an attorney’s fee has increased from $91.00 to $93.00. (This service fee is supposed to cover SSA administration costs.) This means that if SSA withholds $6,000 from a claimant’s past due benefits to pay an attorney fee, the actual amount actually received by the attorney is $5,907.
The changes to Medicare premiums for 2018 has not been announced yet, but will be available at www.Medicare.gov once declared.