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SSA Pays "un-COLA" for 2016

January 12, 2016

The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) to annually adjust benefits paid to Social Security beneficiaries and Supplemental Security  Income (SSI) recipients.  http://www.ssa.gov/oact/COLA/colasummary.html.  As there was no increase in the CPI-W from the third quarter of 2014 to the third quarter of 2015, SSA announced a “diet COLA” (cost-of-living-adjustment) for 2016 with no increase in monthly benefits.

The monthly SSI federal benefit rate for an individual will remain at $733 and the monthly rate for a couple will stay at $1,100.  The New York supplement will continue at $87 for individuals and $104 for couples living alone; the living with others supplements remain at $23 and $46, respectively. A 2016 New York State SSI benefit chart is available at: http://otda.ny.gov/policy/directives/2015/INF/15-INF-10-Attachment-1.pdf

Thanks to Jim Murphy of Legal Services of Central New York, SSI benefit charts from 1976 to 2015 are available at http://www.empirejustice.org/issue-areas/disability-benefits/non-disability-issues/benefits-level-charts/ssi-benefit-levels-published.html.

Although there is no COLA, some of SSA’s benchmarks are tied to the national wage index rather than the CPI. Therefore, Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) threshold for Non-Blind has increased to $1,130 per month.  The SGA level for blind workers, however, is tied to the CPI and remains at $1,820.  The Trial Work Period (TWP) threshold increased to $810 per month (from $780).  The quarter of coverage amount has increased to $1,260.  The maximum taxable earnings for OASDI (old-age, survivors and disability insurance) purposes will remain at $118,500 in 2016.

Most beneficiaries will not see an increase in Medicare Part B monthly premiums from $104.90 per month in 2016.  Some higher earning beneficiaries will have higher premium rates. For more details, see http://www.medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/costs-at-a-glance/costs-at-glance.html.

For SSA’s Fact Sheet on 2016 Social Security Changes, see https://www.socialsecurity.gov/news/press/factsheets/colafacts2016.pdf

 





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