Lawyers Break Down the Changes to Social Security in 2022

Lawyer speaking to a client

Each year, beginning in January, changes made to Social Security disability benefits take effect. These changes impact not only those seeking benefits but those already receiving benefits for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

The best Social Security disability lawyers near you will be able to help you navigate these changes, and can inform you about how the adjustments for 2022 will affect your benefits based on your unique circumstances.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has implemented changes for 2022 that will affect nearly 70 million people receiving disability benefits, with millions more who will be newly receiving benefits from these programs.

These include a major Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)--an increase in benefits based on inflation—as well as new earning limits and other changes.

Understanding these changes helps you maintain your eligibility so you don’t lose your benefits or have benefits are denied benefits as a result.

Knowledge is power. Let Affleck & Gordon’s experienced Social Security disability lawyers guide you through what’s new in 2022 and what it means for you and your benefits.

Table of Contents:

  1.     Major Boost to Benefits with Cost of Living Adjustment
  2.     Earning Limits Went Up
  3.     Work Credits Require More Income
  4.     Maximum Taxable Earning Will Increase
  5.     How Social Security Disability Lawyers Can Help in 2022

Major Boost to Benefits with Cost of Living Adjustment

A major Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) spells good news for beneficiaries and those seeking benefits alike. Essentially, The SSA recalculates COLA annually to adjust to the current levels of inflation in the U.S. economy.

In 2022, those who receive SSDI or SSI will see a 5.9% benefits increase. This marks the largest increase in benefits in 40 years, since 1982.

The maximum monthly SSI payment will increase in 2022 to $841 for an individual, versus $794 in 2021. The maximum monthly payment will also go up to $1,261 for a couple, versus the 2021 amount of $1,191.

In addition, average Social Security disability payments will increase, according to the SSA. These include the following:

  • All retired workers – $1,657 per month, up from $1,565 in 2021
  • An Aged couple, both receiving benefits – $2,753 per month, up from $2,599 in 2021
  • A widowed mother and two children – $3,187 per month, up from $3,009 in 2021
  • Aged widow(er) alone – $1,553 per month, up from $1,467 in 2021
  • Disabled Worker, Spouse, and One or More Children – $2,383 per month, up from $2,250 in 2021
  • All other disabled workers – $1,358 per month, up from $1,282 in 2021

The SSA determined these increases using the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). The increase is based on major growth in the economy in the past year.

Consult a Social Security Disability lawyer to learn more about how these changes in benefits affect you.

Earning Limits Went Up

When seeking or receiving disability benefits, you must not make above a certain amount of earnable income. This amount is known as Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). Exceeding this amount can disqualify you from receiving benefits or cause your benefits to be withheld.

Retirement Earnings Test Exempt Amounts (according to the SSA):

  •       Those who have not reached retirement age can now earn $19,560 in 2022, versus a limit of $18,960 in 2021.
  •       If you reach full retirement age in 2022, individuals can earn $51,960 in the time prior to reaching retirement age, versus a limit of $50,520 in 2021.

Social Security Disability SGA Thresholds:

  •       Non-Blind individuals can now earn $1,350 per month, versus $1,310 in 2021.
  •       Blind individuals can earn $2,260 per month, versus $2,190 in 2021.
  •       Trial Work Period (TWP) participants can earn $970 per month, versus $940 per month in 2021.

Keep in mind that working can affect your benefits regardless of these thresholds, and a Social Security disability lawyer can guide you through your best path forward to winning your case.

In addition to earning limits, the amount needed to earn work credits toward SSDI has increased.

Work Credits Require More Income

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is an earned benefit, meaning you must acquire a certain amount of work credits—usually 40 over a period of 10 years—by earning above the minimum required amount during each quarter of a year.

In 2022, the amount you must earn per quarter to earn a work credit has increased to $1,510, up from $1,470 in 2021.

Maximum Taxable Earning Will Increase

When you or your employer pay a percentage of your income to Social Security tax, the amount that is subject to that tax has increased in 2022.

The limit of income that can be taxed for Social Security tax, or Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) will jump to $147,000 in 2022. The amount in 2021 was $142,800. No taxes are paid on amounts earned beyond the Social Security maximum taxable earnings limit.

How Social Security Disability Lawyers Can Help in 2022

If all of this seems confusing, don’t panic. You’re not alone. Seeking or maintaining disability benefits means you’re being inundated with new information that can feel overwhelming and difficult to figure out.

Disability claimants and their families shouldn’t be expected to become experts in Social Security law just to file for benefits. That’s why consulting Social Security disability lawyers to navigate a claim in 2022—and beyond—can help you navigate each step of your claim and give you the best chance of winning your benefits.

Disability lawyers have the experience and knowledge to guide you through the process, help you understand what to expect and advocate for you.

Affleck & Gordon’s expert attorneys can help you at every stage of your case, from gathering medical evidence and paperwork to file for benefits to every stage of appeal should you be denied, to steps to maintaining the benefits you earn.

Schedule a free case evaluation with Affleck & Gordon today.

In almost all cases, Social Security claimants won’t pay an up-front attorney’s fee. Instead, their attorney will only be paid a percentage of their initial back pay of benefits, according to a national federal standard, if they win their claim. That means you can consult an attorney right away, and you’ll only pay if you win your benefits.

If your SSDI or SSI claim has been denied, Affleck and Gordon can help. We’ve been helping disabled people in Georgia just like you for over 45 years. Once you have applied online for benefits, sign up for a free case evaluation here, and call us at (404) 990-3945.

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