Social Security is in the midst of a campaign to get more and more Americans who qualify to apply for their rightfully earned benefits. This is in addition to the fact that the COLA has recently been modified, which is the Cost of Living Adjustment: this boosts payment for some benefits such as the Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
The initiative aims to address the substantial decline in SSI applications among underserved communities, particularly those hit hardest by the pandemic. These communities primarily consist of individuals of color and individuals living at or below the 150% Federal poverty threshold, as highlighted in a recent press release. Data compiled by the esteemed Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) reveals that in December 2022, an impressive 7.5 million individuals received SSI benefits. Among them, an astounding 85% qualified for assistance due to severe disabilities, including blindness.
Claim more in SSI benefits: The uprising of the COLA boost your payments this year
The adjustment of the Social Security COLA index saw an increase of 8.7% this year, which boosted the average benefit that is delivered: while in 2022 the median was $841, in 2023 it started out being $914, an increase of $73 for each individual. The projected COLA for 2024 could be 3.1%. Despite some signs of moderation in inflation, Johnson said prices have not been reduced, and that’s why beneficiaries are going to need more money to cover their needs.
The SSI program is a needs-based program in the United States that provides financial assistance to individuals with limited income and resources who are elderly, blind, or disabled. To qualify for SSI, an individual must comply to one out of three different requirements:
- The person must be 65 years or older, blind, or have a disability. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has specific definitions and criteria for determining disability.
- The individual’s income must be below the federal benefit rate (FBR), which is the maximum monthly amount payable under the SSI program. Income includes wages, Social Security benefits, and other forms of financial support.
- The person’s countable resources must be below the resource limit set by the SSA. Resources include cash, bank accounts, property (other than a primary residence), and certain other assets.
The applicant must be a US citizen or fall into one of the eligible noncitizen categories defined by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
What’s the best age to request and start enjoying Social Security retirement benefits?
The average Social Security retirement benefit, as of February 2023, was around $1,782/month, or about $21,384/year, according to data provided by the SSA.
Most of the retirees are enrolled in the Medicare’s Supplementary Medical Insurance (also known as Medicare Part B) and have Part B premiums deducted from their Social Security payments. As the health costs continue to surpass the general inflation, those premiums will take a bigger bite out of their retirement checks.
Retiring and applying for retirement benefits at a younger age will cause you to receive less income compared to those who retire at an older age. Your Social Security retirement income is calculated by taking into account how much you’ve earned over your working life, when you begin to claim your benefits, and your COLA increase.
Here’s how the maximum initial monthly benefit retirees can earn for 2023, according to the retirement age:
- At age 62: $2,572
- At age 65: $3,279
- At age 66: $3,506
- At age 66: $3,506