Phillips & Ingrum

Social Security Updates

By Grayson Cannon

Social Security has announced changes and cost-of-living adjustments to benefits for 2018.  These modifications will be effective for next year.

A 2.0 percent cost of living adjustment will be made to all benefits and payments that are tied to the COLA.  Generally, all retirement and disability beneficiaries receiving monthly Social Security or SSI benefits will get a two percent raise.  In addition, there are increases in the maximum monthly benefit for SSI recipients, as well as in the amount of wages which will be subject to FICA tax (the portion of withholding from worker pay that funds Social Security and Medicare benefits).

The maximum monthly SSI benefit for an individual will increase from $735 per month to $750 per month.  For a couple, the SSI max will now be $1125 per month.  Resource limits will remain at $2,000 for an individual SSI beneficiary and $3,000 for a couple.

The maximum monthly Social Security benefit for a worker retiring at full retirement age increases to $2,788 per month.  The average  disabled worker will receive about $1,197 monthly while the average retired worker’s benefit will be $1,404 per month.

A worker will now need to earn $1,320 to be credited with a quarter of coverage for benefits under Social Security.  The substantial gainful activity limit is up to $1,180 per month for non-blind disability recipients, and $1,970 for blind persons.

Those who retire early can earn more before triggering a reduction in their monthly Social Security benefit:  the exempt amount is increased to $17,040 per year or $1,420 per month.  For high-income wage earners, the first $128,700 of earnings will be subject to FICA.  The additional .9 percent Medicare tax that applies to earned income over $200,000 for an individual and $250,000 per married couple filing jointly is also still in place.

For a complete list of changes, go to and download the pdf fact sheet.

These changes may make a difference for anyone on Social Security or SSI or someone who is in the process of applying for benefits.  If you need help appealing a denial of your disability benefits, our office can help with your appeal.