What Are the Changes to Social Security Disability Benefits for 2020?

Every year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) updates its requirement for receiving Social Security benefits. These changes affect individuals who are retiring or already retired and claiming Social Security benefits. The SSA’s updates also affect disabled individuals and their benefits. The Pennsylvania and New Jersey disability lawyers at Young Marr & Associates can help you understand the upcoming changes and how you and your family will be affected. If you or a family member is disabled, our attorneys can help guide you through the process and fight for your benefits.

2020 SGA Income Limits for Social Security Disability Insurance

The SSA has updated the income limit for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) in 2020. This requirement changes yearly to reflect changes in inflation and other economic changes. This amount is a factor in determining whether you are eligible for SSD and SSDI benefits.

To be considered “disabled” by the SSA, your condition must be “severe.” As part of that definition, the condition must make it impossible for you to work to earn a living.

The SSA has determined a monthly income amount to set as the minimum income required for self-support. This monthly income level is called the “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) limit, and it is the minimum income that the SSA considers “enough” to make a living. If you earn more than the SGA limit despite having a disability, you will not be eligible for disability benefits because the SSA will not consider your disability “severe.”

In 2019, the SGA limit was $1,220. That means that if you were capable of earning $1,220, you were not eligible for disability benefits. This amount has increased in 2020 to $1,260. If you are blind, the SGA limit in 2020 is $2,110. These limits are usually higher each year, allowing you to make more income without losing benefits.

Trial Work Period Limits in 2020 for Social Security Disability

The substantial gainful activity limit determines if you are economically eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. If your qualifications have already been settled and you are already receiving disability benefits, you may be able to earn additional income while still collecting your benefits.

The trial work period (TWP) is a program created to allow people collecting Social Security disability benefits to begin to work again without losing their benefits. You can earn income over 9 non-consecutive months, allowing you time to ease back into the workforce. Your trial work period will continue until you have worked for 9 qualifying months within 5 years.

The SSA sets a threshold on the amount of money per month you can earn during the trial work period. If you make more than this limit, the SSA may begin to question whether your disability is still severe enough to warrant disability benefits.

The limit for the trial work period in 2019 was $880 per month. In 2020, the limit increased to $910 per month. Any month where you receive that amount or more will be considered a qualifying month towards the 9 months of the trial work period. Any month where you earn less than the TWP limit does not count as a trial work period month, and you can keep that income without losing one of your 9 TWP months or losing your benefits.

The SSA allows you, in certain circumstances, to deduct expenses related to your disability directly from your income before comparing your income to the TPW or SGA limit. These expenses can include transportation costs or medical prescriptions directly related to your condition and ability to work. The SSA requires that you properly report all income and expenses.

If you are currently receiving disability benefits and are working or planning to work, it is important to consult with a Pennsylvania and New Jersey disability lawyer. The experienced disability attorneys at Young Marr & Associates will help you understand how these limits and restrictions could affect your disability benefits.

Additional Social Security Disability Changes in 2020

Social Security benefits often see a an annual cost of living adjustment (COLA). In 2020 this will be a 1.6% increase beginning January 1, 2020. Your age and the number of years worked establish your exact disability benefit, but with this COLA adjustment, the average increase in Social Security disability benefits would be approximately $20 per month.

Your spouse and family members can often collect benefits alongside your benefits. The SSA will normally pay family members’ disability benefits based on your full retirement age. When determining spousal benefits, the calculation assumes your spouse has retired at their current age, so changes to the retirement age are also important to consider.

The retirement age will increase in 2020 by two months to 66 years and 8 months for people born in 1958. The retirement age will increase by two months in 2021 and 2022, bringing the full retirement age to 67 years.

To determine if your spouse, or family member, is eligible for family disability benefits and how those benefits will be affected by the changes in the full age of retirement, contact a Pennsylvania and New Jersey disability attorney.

Call Our Pennsylvania and New Jersey Disability Attorneys for a Free Consultation

It is important to fully understand all of the 2020 changes to Social Security Disability Insurance. If you or a family member plans to file for disability or is receiving benefits and wishes to return to work, our attorneys can help navigate these changes and requirements. Call an experienced Pennsylvania and New Jersey disability lawyer at Young Marr & Associates today to schedule a free consultation. In New Jersey, call (609) 557-3081, and if you are in Pennsylvania, call us at (215) 515-2954 to schedule a free consultation.