Changes in California Social Security Disability Benefits in 2016

With the turn of the calendar to a new year, a number of changes go into effect for residents of California that receive social security disability benefits. Some of the expected impacts were softened thanks to the budget deal that was voted for back in October, but there are still changes that will affect those that receive benefits.

The More Things Change…

A number of things stay the same for 2016, which is notable simply for the fact that they are not changing. For just the third time since automatic cost-of-living increases started in 1975, there will be no Social Security payment increase in 2016. There was also no increase in benefits in 2010 and 2011. This is because the increase is tied to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners metric, and from the third quarter of 2015 to third quarter of 2016, there was no change. Along with no payment increase, there was also no change to the maximum amount of earning subject to the Social Security tax, which remains at $118,500.

The big news for social security benefit recipients is the budget deal that was struck in October. Approximately 30 percent of beneficiaries, most notably those who receive help from Medicare Part B, were facing massive premium hikes in 2016, some of up to 52 percent.

Under Social Security’s “hold harmless” provision, Social Security disability benefits cannot decrease from one year to another. Almost 70 percent of beneficiaries have their premiums deducted from the benefits check, so any increase in premium would have had to be handed off to the 30 percent of those that do not. Instead, Medicare Part B took out a $7.5 billion dollar loan from the U.S. Treasury to soften the increase to a more manageable 15 percent. The increase is limited for those that have been receiving benefits prior to 2016. Those that enroll for benefits this year may see a different premium amount.

More Online Services, Longer Hours

Of course there are other smaller changes as well that do not directly affect people’s Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration is continuing to add to the number of services they offer online. If you prefer to conduct your business in person, you may also notice that your local office will be offering longer office hours, relaxing cuts that had been made in previous years.

If you have suffered a disabling injury and are no longer able to work, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. For help with all your questions, and assistance in navigating all the red tape, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer. With 23 years of experience representing injured workers in Southern California, we’ll help to make sure your claim is approved, and that you receive the maximum benefit you are due.