Social Security COLA: Payments To Increase 8.7% in 2023

Social Security recipients, including those who receive Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), can expect to see their benefit payments increase nearly 9% next year based on a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).

The 8.7% Social Security COLA for 2023 is higher than the 2022 adjustment and the highest since 1981. It reflects the strongest inflation in 40 years as Americans are paying more for basics like food, housing, energy, and medical services compared to a year ago.

If your benefit claim was denied, Graham & Graham’s Social Security lawyers can help with an appeal.

Breakdown of Benefit Changes

Social Security’s COLA is based on the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) from the third quarter of 2021 through the third quarter of 2022. September data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that the cost of many goods and services has gone up substantially over the past year. Food is up 11.2%, energy is up 19.8%, shelter is up 6.6%, and transportation services are up 14.6%.

In a press release, the Social Security Administration (SSA) said that, on average, Social Security benefits are set to rise by more than $140 per month beginning in January. A fact sheet from SSA shows the following SSI and SSD benefit changes for 2023:

  • SSI individual monthly maximum amount: $914/month (up from $841/month in 2022)
  • SSI couple monthly maximum amount: $1,371/month (up from $1,261 in 2022)
  • SSD estimated average monthly benefit for all disabled workers: $1,483/month (up from $1,364 in 2022)
  • SSD estimated average monthly benefit for disabled workers with a spouse and one or more children: $2,616/month (up from $2,407/month in 2022)

The 8.7% COLA for 2023 is the biggest jump since 1981, when the adjustment rose by 11.2%. The highest ever COLA was 14.3% in 1980. Last year, Social Security payments increased 5.9%.

What Will My Benefit Amount Be in 2023?

Actual benefit amounts for 2023 depend on a beneficiary’s situation. For SSI benefits, the monthly amount depends on factors like living arrangement and countable income. SSD benefits are based on lifetime average earnings covered by Social Security and any other benefits received, like workers’ compensation.

SSA says that beneficiaries should receive a notice about their new benefit amount in the mail in December. The fastest way to see your updated 2023 benefit is to log into your Social Security account and view the online COLA notice.

Denied Applicants Should Begin the Appeals Process Now

With many Americans facing a cost-of-living crisis amid surging inflation, obtaining SSD and SSI benefits is more important than ever for those with a health condition that prevents them from working.

However, around half of all applications for Social Security disability benefits are denied. The approval rate has steadily declined, from more than 62% in 2000 to 51% in 2019.

Your best chance of getting your benefits approved comes at the hearing stage, but that could take almost a year, so you need to start the appeals process right away.

A denied benefit claim is not the end of the road for SSI and SSD applicants. Denied claims can be appealed, and the appeals process goes through several stages. Your best chance of approval comes at a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). But getting to the hearing stage can take many months.

In Ohio, the average hearing wait time is 228 workdays in Akron; 251 workdays in Cincinnati; 270 workdays in Cleveland; 319 workdays in Columbus; 251 workdays in Dayton; and 221 workdays in Toledo.

Even if you begin the appeals process today, it could be almost a year before you make it before a judge. The good news is that Ohio ALJ judges tend to approve Social Security disability claims at a rate higher than the national average.

We Can Represent You in the Appeals Process

Claimants who receive a hearing about their SSD or SSI claim tend to do better when they are represented by an attorney. Social Security lawyer Joshua Graham of Graham & Graham can do more than help clients with a denied claim. He can also help them connect with food, shelter, medical treatment, and vocational rehabilitation resources.

Graham & Graham has deep roots in Southeast Ohio, and we are dedicated to assisting the people who live here in any way we can. To speak with a lawyer about disability benefit questions, contact Josh at jrg@grahamlpa.com / 740-454-8585.

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