Disability Benefits May Be Providing Too Little These Days

Have you found your Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) or Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits stretching less and less? Disability beneficiaries are going through one of the longer periods of time in disability benefits’ history without receiving a cost-of-living adjustment. Since 1975, this has been the only multi-year period that did not see any cost-of-living adjustment.

The last increase occurred in the fall of 2008, but it was a higher than usual one at 5.8 percent. The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) considers adjustments each year by looking at the inflation rated based on the Consumer Price Index (“CPI”). If inflation increases, the SSA adjusts disability benefits accordingly; otherwise, it does not change benefits.

The 5.8 percent jump apparently outweighed the effects of inflation over the past three years, as the SSA has not made any cost of living adjustments for beneficiaries. This coincides with some of the worst economic times since the Great Depression, however, with high unemployment rates, stock market variations and soaring gas prices all contributing to our economic woes.

By looking only at the CPI to adjust benefits, the SSA may be doing a disservice to SSDI and SSI beneficiaries. Some critics refer to it as an inaccurate and poor gauge for the true costs that consumers face. For example, the CPI during the booming period just before the economic collapse of 2008 showed little to no inflation, despite the rising prices of nearly everything. It may be time for the SSA to find a better way to ensure that beneficiaries are getting the help they need.

Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security Disability lawyers


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