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A new year can prompt new changes for Social Security and their applicants. Multiple sources are claiming that there will be 3 major changes for the program. Since the changes that are only proposed, there is no guarantee they will go into effect in 2021. In addition to the 3 major changes, it is possible that other changes and statues can occur as well. In 2021, it is important to stay informed about Social Security and any new adjustments that they may make. The 3 major potential changes are listed and described below.

There will be a 1.3% cost-of-living adjustment.

Beginning in January, the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will be set at 1.3 percent. Social Security states that cost-of-living adjustments allow Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to keep pace with inflation. The Social Security Administration determines a formula to calculate COLAs. According to AARP, the monthly Social Security benefits will increase by $20 for the majority of retired workers. As a result, the average annual benefit will be approximately $1,543. Previously, the annual amount was estimated to be $1,523 in 2020. In addition, retired couples and disabled workers will also receive an increase in COLA. Retired couples can potentially receive an increase of $33, and disabled workers can receive an increase of $16. Overall, the greatest monthly payment that people can receive from Social Security would be $3,148, which is an increase from $3,011 in 2020.

The Social Security Administration claims that almost nine out of ten people who are 65 years of age or older receive Social Security benefits. In addition to Social Security Disability, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides a retirement program to people who work in the United States. As defined by the SSA, the program administers retirement income to eligible retirees and their families. It is important to be informed about the specific benefits of retirement, as well as information that may be helpful when applying.

As defined by the SSA, Social Security replaces a percentage of an employee’s pre-retirement income based on their lifetime earnings, specifically the highest 35 years of earnings and when they choose to start receiving benefits. The tax money that workers pay to Social Security provide benefits to workers who are retired, disabled, survivors, or dependents of beneficiaries. Statista wrote on their website that there were approximately 45.1 million retired workers that received Social Security benefits in 2019.

The SSA defines more information about eligibility on their website. They write that individuals are able to apply for retirement benefits when they reach a certain age and have worked and paid toward Social Security in order to receive benefits. As stated on the website, a worker earns “credits” that are used to track their Social Security benefits. An individual must have 40 credits in order to be eligible. If they do not work and have not received the sufficient amount of credits, they will be unable to receive retirement benefits. The number of credits varies on the year that a person was born. As described by the SSA, people who were born in 1929 and beyond need to achieve 40 credits. To estimate, this would be equal to approximately 10 years of work experience.

Since it has been established, people have believed certain myths about Social Security Disability. However, not all information that is told about Social Security is correct. For example, statements can be overexaggerated or fabricated. It is important to research information about Social Security directly in order to receive accurate information and facts. Listed below are 10 myths that are common to hear about Social Security Disability. To find the information contained in the following explanations, visit the Social Security Administration’s website at www.ssa.gov.

A person needs to be disabled for a year before they can apply for disability benefits.

This myth is not true. The SSA lists in their Blue Book that a person qualifies for benefits if they have a disability as a result of an injury or illness that is predicted to endure for at least 12 months. If an employee is diagnosed by a medical official that states their injury will last for over a year and they will be unable to work, they should apply for Social Security Disability as soon as possible.

In a previous blog, we reported on the extensive wait that Pennsylvania residents can face when filing for Social Security Disability benefits. Many residents of Tennessee struggle with the same frustrations, but their congressman, U.S. Rep. John Tanner, is hoping to do something about it.

Tanner is the chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security. In an article on nwtntoday.com, Tanner stated, “Since the beginning of 2009, the hearings backlog has begun to slowly decline. This shows that Congress’ investment in SSA is starting to pay off.” Tanner and the subcommittee have urged the Social Security Administration to continue to focus on reducing the backlog in disability claims. “Because applicants often have little or no income while awaiting a decision on benefits, the backlog has caused severe hardship to hundreds of thousands of Americans with significant disabilities,” Tanner said in a statement.

Beth Bates, a Jackson, TN attorney who works with disability claimants, testified before the subcommittee about the impact the backlog has had on her clients. Bates said, “Foreclosures and bankruptcies have increased, with claimants losing their homes and vehicles and their economic stability.”

Tanner and the subcommittee have made reducing the disability backlog a priority that will help social security disability claimants not only in Tennessee, but in all states.

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Attorney Michael J. O’Connor of O’Connor Law recently appeared on a segment of “Life After 50”, which airs on television station KDKA in Pittsburgh. Attorney O’Connor discussed topics including social security disability, workers’ compensation, and nursing home abuse. The video clip below shows the episode of “Life After 50”.

No one expects to suffer a disability, but when they do it can be a comfort to know that benefits are available through the Social Security Administration. If an individual is unable to work because of a medical disability that is expected to last no less than 12 months, he or she, and sometimes certain family members, may qualify for disability income. However, applying for Social Security Disability benefits can be a lengthy, difficult, and sometimes frustrating process.3192341451_c79179e0c1

In order for an individual to receive disability benefits, he or she must complete the application process. Additionally, Social Security requires that applicants prove they cannot do any work of any kind. As a result of this requirement, many individuals are denied and must take the next step: a hearing in front of a judge. But according to a chart from the Social Security Administration, as an example of the timeframe for those filing in Pennsylvania, it can take approximately 437 days to schedule a hearing in the Wilkes-Barre office.

This extensive processing time is a result of the growing population, including the baby boomer generation who has become sick or disabled. As the Social Security Administration wrangles with the extensive list of individuals applying for benefits, requests for its services are further increased as a result of the economy. In an article on NPR.org, Social Security Deputy Commissioner David Foster commented on the increase in requests. “We expect those numbers to go up very much in the next few years because of the recession,” said Foster. He continued, “There’s usually a correlation between the unemployment rate and then the amount of disability claims that we have.”

As the economy struggles to recover, it is more important than ever for those applying for Social Security Disability or Social Security Income to consult an experienced lawyer as soon as a disability occurs. Social Security lawyers are well-versed and experienced in every aspect of the claim process. In addition, laws and regulations may have limits for action; an individual can lose his or her rights by waiting. A lawyer can help by preparing and filing the appropriate appeal paperwork and other required forms, as well as compiling all the medical evidence and presenting testimony at the appeal hearing.

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