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Social Security News: Stimulus and COLA

Social Security Benefits

If you receive Social Security or SSI, you likely have already noticed that your check is slightly larger this year. The Social Security Administration has provided a 1.3% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for benefit payments. This brings the federal SSI payment to $794.

Social Security COLA

In addition, the amount that workers can earn before losing their eligibility for disability based on their work has increased to $1,310 for non-blind individuals. However, it is important to be aware that the trial work period threshold is substantially lower – $940. If you earn more than the trial work threshold while on disability benefits, then you will enter a trial work period. If you work nine months (not necessarily consecutive), earning more than the threshold, then you move into the extended period of eligibility in which your benefits are in jeopardy.  At that point, you will lose benefits if you earn more than the substantial gainful activity (SGA) threshold of $1,310 in any month. However, SGA earnings can be reduced by deducting certain impairment-related work expenses.

Your COVID Stimulus Check

Wondering when your stimulus check will come? You can track it at irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment. If you filed a 2019 return and the IRS has your bank information, you will receive a direct deposit. If you did not file a 2019 return, you will receive your stimulus payment however you receive your Social Security benefits. Therefore, if you have a representative payee, they will receive the stimulus on your behalf. They are obligated to use the funds for your benefit. However, if someone else claims you, or could claim you, as a dependent on their tax returns, you are not eligible for a stimulus check.

Just as with the first stimulus check, the benefit is not considered for public benefits purposes. In addition, long-term care facilities cannot seize or demand the check even if your loved one is on Medicaid. The recipient may use these funds however they wish – so long as it is for their own benefit. Another major source of confusion with the first stimulus surrounded a check for deceased individuals. This time around Congress has stated that anyone who died prior to 2020 is not eligible for the benefit. However, that means that individuals who died in 2020 are eligible.

If you have any questions about this post or any other elder care and special needs law matters, please email me at ssiegel@norris-law.com. For other topics related to the coronavirus, visit our Coronavirus Thought Leadership Connection.

The information contained in this post may not reflect the most current developments, as the subject matter is extremely fluid and constantly changing. Please continue to monitor this site for ongoing developments. Readers are also cautioned against taking any action based on information contained herein without first seeking advice from professional legal counsel.