SSDI Benefits to Increase in 2022
The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently announced a 5.9% increase in disability benefits for 2022. The increase is due to the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) that the agency applies to disability benefits every year. This adjustment represents the biggest jump in the monthly benefits in four decades.
How Much Are 2022 Disability Payments?
The average 2021 benefit for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is $1,282 per month. That will increase by $76 to $1,358 for 2022. For disabled workers who are married with one or more children, their average monthly benefit will increase from $2,250 to $2,383, an increase of $133 per month and $1,596 annually.
For individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), monthly benefits will rise from $794 to $841. The new monthly rate for couples will be $1,261, up from $1,191 in 2021.
Applicants for SSDI or SSI benefits will need to make less than $1,350 per month ($2,260 per month for blind applicants) to qualify for the benefits. In 2021, the threshold was $1,310 a month. People earning above these limits are considered to be performing a substantial gainful activity (SGA).
Reason Behind the Increase
The 5.9% increase is aimed at helping SSDI recipients keep pace with rising prices. As the economy recovers from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Social Security disability lawyers see many SSDI recipients requiring a higher monthly income to meet their ongoing living and medical expenses.
The increases are dependent on the CPI-W (Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers) — a measure that captures the monthly change in the price of goods and services. The SSA compares the third quarter CPI-W of the previous year and the current one to determine the COLA adjustments it should make.
In the past, recipients only saw their disability benefits increase if Congress approved COLA adjustments. The first adjustment was made in 1950. It was not until 1972 when Congress approved automatic COLA adjustments tied to increases in consumer prices.
Since the legislation was passed, beneficiaries have seen their benefits increase almost every year. However, there were no COLA adjustments in 2009, 2010, and 2015. That is because benefits cannot be increased if the CPI-W does not rise or inflation decreases. Nevertheless, the SSA never adjusts SSDI benefits downwards to mirror a reduced cost of living.