Jeffrey Albertson/Oct. 28, 2018
67 million beneficiaries of the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs will receive a 2.8% cost of living increase in 2019, according to data released earlier this month from the Social Security Administration. The adjustments will commence in December for SSI benefit payments and January 2019 for retirement and disability benefits. Cost of living adjustments (COLAs) are based on increases in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).
Of the previous 10 years, cost of living increases have been meager in comparison to previous decades, mostly because inflation has been relatively low during the period. As a measure of reference the years 2009, 2010 & 2015 saw no increases and 2016 payments only increased 0.3%. However, in the past two years, as inflation has slowly risen, so too has COLA percentages. The 2019 increase is the highest since 2008’s 5.8% raise.
Additionally changing is the income threshold for Substantial Gainful Activity, the determination definition used by the SSA to gauge a claimant’s ability level. For non-blind recipients in 2019, the new level is $1,220 per month, a jump from $1,180 in 2018 and $1,170 in 2017. The blind SGA level will increase in 2019 to $2,040, which is an increase from 2018’s amount of $1,970. In the years between 2014 and 2016, the SGA remained unchanged at $1,820.
While the tax rates for the employed and the self-employed remained the same at 7.65% and 15.30% respectively, the maximum taxable earnings amount will increase to $132,900; an increase from the 2018 amount of $128,700.
According to recent data, 2,050,064 Georgians receive payments from these programs: 1,790,398 from the retirement and disability programs and 259,666 from the supplemental income program. The 2019 increases will be as follows: