Three life changes that could improve your Social Security and disability benefits

Sometimes UNEXPECTED changes may occur that could improve the benefits you receive from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

But in general, benefits increase annually due to a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), which measures the consumer price index.

The COLA typically increases benefits annually, while other factors may as well


The COLA typically increases benefits annually, while other factors may as well

In other words, SSA applicants are generally protected from rising costs.

For example, COLA is up 5.9% this year — bringing the median Social Security benefit to $1,657.

But surprises do happen (sometimes unfortunate ones) that can lead to higher benefits.

We reveal them below.

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spouse dies

If a spouse dies, the affected widow or widower can claim a lump sum payment of $255.

Additionally, your monthly benefit may increase if you earned less Social Security benefits than your deceased spouse.

This is part of the survivor benefits that a widow or widower can receive if they are 60 years of age or older.

The benefits would range from 71.5% to 100% of your deceased spouse’s retirement benefit, depending on your age.

The closer you get to age 60, the fewer survival benefits you are entitled to.

However, once you reach your full retirement age, you can receive 100% of your deceased spouse’s benefit.

Your full retirement age is 66 or 67, depending on the year of your birth.

Also remember that you do not have to claim your spouse’s benefits immediately after death occurs.

You can defer entitlement until you reach full retirement age.

Let’s say you earn the average Social Security payment of $1,657 and your deceased spouse received this year’s maximum payment of $4,194.

That’s a difference of more than $2,500.

Disabled children and minors

Minors and disabled children whose deceased parent received social security contributions could also receive survivor’s benefits.

To qualify, the child must be unmarried and under the age of 18 or 19 if they are a full-time student.

If you are over this age, you must have a disability that started before the age of 22.

Beneficiaries may receive up to 75% of their deceased parent’s benefit.

It’s also possible for grandchildren and stepchildren to qualify in “certain circumstances,” according to the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Her disability is getting worse and affecting her income

People with disabilities can apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

To qualify for SSI, individuals must have no more than $2,000 in assets, while couples can have up to $3,000.

For SSDI, the monthly income limit for most applicants is $1,350 – but this is increased to $2,260 if a beneficiary is blind.

In 2022, the SSI average benefit that year is $621 per month, $34 more than 2021. This equates to $7,452 per year.

With SSDI, the amount you receive is a bit more complicated.

The amount of the benefit depends on the age at which you became disabled, your work history (including the average level of your past earnings) and the length of time you are entitled to it.

“There really is no maximum benefit amount for disabled workers that matches the maximum benefit amounts for retired workers that we publish on our website,” the SSA previously told The Sun.

Regardless of how much you receive from either or both programs, your benefits could increase as your disability worsens over time.

If that happens, it could force you to work fewer hours – affecting your income – meaning you might be entitled to a higher benefit.

Also, keep in mind that if your health improves to the point where you are no longer considered disabled, you could lose these benefits.

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To learn more about saving for retirement, we highlight five ways you can boost your Social Security checks at any age.

Also, see the exact dates that Social Security, SSI, and SSDI will be paid each month this year.

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