On October 10, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced the federal government’s latest cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) update. Immediately after New Year’s, the newest COLA raises all monthly federal benefit payments by 1.6%. Read on to learn what this Social Security increase means for all disability beneficiaries in current payment status. In addition, this COLA change gives disabled and retired military veterans a small, but welcome raise for 2020.
Social Security Increase Numbers Broken Down By Benefit Type
The latest COLA change isn’t as big as the one we saw last year (2.8%). But with no Social Security increase in 2015 or 2016, we believe any raise is worth celebrating! Here’s how the numbers break down, starting in January 2020:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) — The maximum SSI payment for individuals goes up $12/month; for couples, it increases $18/month. If you currently get $771/month in SSI benefits, your payments will go up to $783/month starting in January 2020.
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) — The highest monthly SSDI payment in 2019 was $2,861. Starting in January 2020, that amount goes up another $150/month, raising the maximum SSDI payment available to $3,011. However, most current SSDI beneficiaries won’t see that much extra money in next year’s checks. According to the SSA’s COLA fact sheet, the average SSDI beneficiary today receives $1,238/month. Starting in January 2020, the federal government adds another $20/month, bringing the average monthly SSDI benefit up to $1,258.
- Social Security retirement — In 2019, the average retiree receives $1,479/month in Social Security payments. On January 1, 2020, that average retirement benefit rises to $1,503/month. While this puts just $288 more into each retiree’s pocket, at least it’s something. Much like SSDI, the max Social Security retirement payment available each month jumps from $2,861 to $3,011.
How the 2020 Social Security Increase Affects Military Veterans
Interestingly, anytime there’s an annual Social Security increase, VA benefits go up the same amount. According to Military.com, here’s how the latest Social Security increase will impact veterans in 2020:
- Married veterans with a 100% VA disability rating will receive $49 more in monthly compensation. The maximum VA disability compensation payment for individual veterans in 2020 is $3,106.04.
- Retired E-7s with 20 years of service get $38 more each month, on average.
- Retired O-4s who served for 20 years get $65 more in monthly benefits, on average.
- Other military retirees will receive an extra $16 for every $1,000 they currently receive each month from the VA.
- Monthly compensation for veterans with a 10% VA disability rating goes up to $142.29; for a 20% rating, it’s $281.27.
While the latest Social Security increase isn’t huge, every penny helps when you depend on benefits to make ends meet.
Medicare Part D Costs Also Going Up in 2020
Now, here’s some not-great news: Your Medicare Part D out-of-pocket costs will go up in 2020. We say this because anyone eligible for the 1.6% Social Security increase likely has Medicare coverage, too. Once you receive SSDI benefits for 24 months, you automatically qualify for Medicare. All Americans must sign up for Medicare at 65 or pay a penalty. Since Part D covers prescription drugs and we know the cost outlays, let’s take a look.
The ACA (also known as “Obamacare”) includes a provision limiting how much Medicare Part D costs grew from 2014 to 2019. However, that provision expires on January 1, 2020. Here are the new Medicare Part D plan costs and other changes that go into effect next year:
- Annual deductible increases from $415 to $435.
- Out-of-pocket spending threshold for catastrophic coverage increases from $5,100/year to $6,350 annually.
- Enrollees who take name brand-only medications can expect to pay $400 more in 2020 (average annual expenditure estimate: $2,652).
- Initial coverage limit goes up from $3,820/year to $4,020 starting in January.
You May Qualify for Legal Assistance
Many people consider applying for benefits once the SSA announces the latest Social Security increase. What they don’t realize is this: Less than 1 in 5 first-time disability applicants get approved on their very first try. Luckily, you can get a free, no-obligation consultation with a nearby Social Security attorney to answer your claim questions. And having a lawyer file your disability claim doubles your chances for benefit approval the first time you apply!
Think you can’t afford a lawyer? Under federal law, an attorney cannot charge you anything until after you’re approved for disability benefits. These lawyers work on contingency, so you’ll pay nothing for professional claim help now. If your disability claim’s denied, an attorney can fight the SSA on your behalf all the way up to federal court. If your case doesn’t win, you owe the lawyer $0 for helping you. And if you do win, you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free disability benefits evaluation now.
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.