Preliminary reports indicate that the amount of an average Social Security Disability (SSD) benefit will increase by about 1.5 percent in 2014. This is one of the lowest cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) since 1975, when automatic raises pegged to the cost of living took effect.
Around 58 million people receive benefits of some type from the Social Security Administration The rate of increase, whatever it turns out to be, will also affect recipients of old-age pensions and other benefits. The final number was delayed because of the government shutdown.
The typical monthly payment across all programs is $1,162. The projected increase would give average recipients an increase of around $17.
In addition to affecting people who receive SSD benefits, the COLA would also apply to the amounts received by disabled veterans, federal retirees, and recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the disability program for the poor.
It is possible, according to advocacy groups for seniors and the disabled, that the government shutdown may delay implementation of the COLA beyond the beginning of the New Year, when it would normally take effect. However, the Social Security Administration has not indicated a delay may occur.
The 1974, COLAs have averaged 4.1 percent. In 2013, the COLA was 1.7 percent. There were no adjustments in 2010 or 2011 because inflation was too low.
The announcement of the precise amount of the increase has been delayed because the September Consumer Price Index (CPI) has not yet been released. The COLA is based on the average price increases over July, August and September compared to the same months in the previous year.
A cost of living adjustment for recipients of SSD benefits is automatic, whatever the rate turns out to be. However, being approved for benefits in the first place is definitely not automatic. If you are having problems with your application for disability benefits, do what so many other disabled workers have done: call Binder & Binder, America's most successful Social Security Disability advocates. Tell them your story and find out how they can help you get the payments you need and deserve.
Source: Washington Post, "For 2nd straight year, Social Security recipients, disabled veterans get only small increase," Oct. 14, 2013.