Oct 26, 2016

All The COLA Adjustments

     Some excerpts from Social Security's notice of cost of living and other adjustments for 2017, which will appear in the Federal Register tomorrow:
  • The maximum Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) monthly benefit amounts for 2017 under title XVI o f the Act will be $735 for an eligible individual, $1,103 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse, and $368 for an essential person;
  • The dollar fee limit for services performed as a representative payee remains at $41 per month ($78 per month in the case of a beneficiary who is disabled and has an alcoholism or drug addiction condition that leaves him or her incapable of managing benefits) in 2017;
  • The dollar limit on the administrative-cost fee assessment charged to an appointed representative such as an attorney, agent, or other person who represents claimants remains at $91 beginning in December 2016;
  • The Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) contribution and benefit base will be $127,200 for remuneration paid in 2017 and self-employment income earned in taxable years beginning in 2017;
  • The monthly exempt amounts under the OASDI retirement earnings test for taxable years ending in calendar year 2017 will be $1,410 for beneficiaries who will attain their Normal Retirement Age (NRA) ... after 2017 and $3,740 for those who attain NRA in 2017;
  • The taxable earnings a person must have to be credited with a quarter of coverage in 2017 will be $1,300;
  • The monthly amount deemed to constitute substantial gainful activity (SGA) for statutorily blind persons in 2017 will be $1,950. The corresponding amount for non-blind disabled persons will be $1,170;
  • The earnings threshold establishing a month as a part of a trial work period will be $840 for 2017;
  • The cost-of-living increase is 0.3 percent for benefits under titles II and XVI of the Act. Under title II, OASDI benefits will increase by 0.3 percent for individuals eligible for December 2016 benefits, payable in January 2017.


Margaret Kibbee said...

Wow, takes some serious math skills to keep up with all that money.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't they add one more paragraph stating that maximum fee agreement amount would increase to xx dollars to adjust for inflation? Why is our maximum Attorney fee not increased for inflation? Do we Attorneys live in a separate inflation free parallel universe?

Anonymous said...

LOL. Like the COLA was calculated of a CPI that is representative of the goods and services the aged and disabled use. Leave it an atty to ask for more money when those that they represent slide further and further into poverty. Don't like what SSA pays, chase a different ambulance.

Anonymous said...

Living on 800+ a month is living WELL below the poverty line. As with using goods to only receive 0.3% increase IT is insulting since most people cannot afford a car much less drive one. Anyone who thinks there are people living even remotely well off on SSDI, SSI or ODSI is more delusional than the SSA deems most of its recipients. Even living on 1000+ isn't any better since most people's rents are about that much.
To those who worked most of their lives and end up only on SSA because they also got screwed out of their pensions/retirements live no better than those who were not able to save for a pension and or because the employer did not offer one in the generation before this last one. Congress likes to call people takers because then they can use them to give out more of nothing while the richest provide little to nothing like many in Congress themselves that use their D.C. seats to become millionaires.
Years ago legislators went and tried to live on what families on welfare got from AFDC. Now with the the highest cost of living through the last 20 years, they ought to try and live as one does on any SSA benefits. Just one day live in a SSA recipients shoes if they have any. Unlike Congress, most SSA recipients worked for a living for decades, those who now receive next to nothing to live on. I'll say this about politicians, they're some of the most calculating, coldest and self absorbed two legged human beings that dare to treat the rest of the American people like they are curs in the street. Putting people into the street or live like dogs in the street is as despicable as it gets for such a "great" country. The pols could care less about the disabled they help create via negligent employers.
4 to maybe 6 dollars a month will get gobbled up by medicare, drug costs, food, but what ever it is, it is definitely an insult, the 0.3 % is pretty much like getting 0.0% the year before. It is truly the saddest when the U.S. treats it's own disabled like trash. But if it can done to our veterans, than the rest of us are even more worthless as disabled.

Anonymous said...

@ 9:44

Sure. Y'all roll over on getting rid of the ability to decline a video hearing, and we'll up the fee. Deal?

Tim said...

5:15 PM. In this current climate, the claimant needs every advantage they can get and statistics clearly point to the claimant being disadvantaged. After waiting 18 months odr more for a hearing, what's a few more days of waiting if your chances are increased? If you want more video hearings, then offer significant time savings without much additional risk. As for the attorney's fees, I believe the government should pay 100 percent of it with much higher cap, instead of taking it from the claimants. This would, in theory, incentify the government to do a better job at the DDS level and to issue more OTRs. Bonuses to management should ultimately be tied to making correct determinations in a timely manner instead of deny fast. This could be done by looking at cases ultimately overturned on appeals or by CTRs.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see a Congressperson, Senator, or President float the idea of the taxpayer paying the fee for Social Security disability representatives and see popular reaction ("Taxpayer dollars to crooked lawyers?!?").

But more importantly, do you know what that change would do optics-wise to the program? It would give the folks that want to kill SSA and/or privatize it the ability to say something like "the government is paying--out of its own pockets--the same representatives pushing through all these bogus disability claims that are bankrupting it. The government is killing itself! Let's let capable private industry bring it back to life!"

Anonymous said...

Worrying about fee increases in the context of the current cola raise is a true joke.

Tim said...

The government ALREADY pays the lawyers! It does so by taking it out of the money the claimants get. What I want to do is to discourage the DDS mentality of hurray up and deny, then deny again! Then, following that up with 18 months+ of waiting for a hearing while ignoring requests for an OTR, just to do a "show" hearing on cases that should have been approved much earlier. Then, they punish the claimant even more by taking $6,000 of their back pay! THAT is what the American people should be upset about!

Tim said...

9:20 AM. If the claims are bogus, then don't approve them! Last time I checked, Eric Conn has never approved a single case! Many of his former cases have been reapproved, despite the fact that previous evidence has been excluded. I hope you were including Daugherty in your list of "crooked lawyers."

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is that in this environment the job of winning a case is getting much tougher for attorneys. Yet despite the increased difficulty, our pay in real dollars is going down because, regardless of inflation, the 6,000 cap hasn't been increased for many years. Don't misunderstand; Seldom do cases in this environment actually produce attorney fees that reach the $6,000 cap. However, after all the higher level of denials and onset dates pushed forward, when a case does actually produce a fee that caps, is it fair that our cap hasn't been adjusted for years? For all people here that aren't attorneys, note that we rely on the bigger paying cases to help offset the time spent on cases denied or that had onset dates cut substantially. Just like the pharmaceutical companies need to have a few very successful medications to offset the hundreds of meds that didn't pan out, so is the economics of a law practice. We don't all drive Porsches like you see in the movies.

Anonymous said...

6:15 A.M.,

You're not necessarily wrong about the economics of the law practice, but you'll have a hard time drumming up sympathy for social security attorneys who feel underpaid.

For one thing, you don't need to be an attorney to do it. For another, the bar for representation is very, very low. You can get paid for a win whether you're a fierce litigator or a potted plant. You can even ask the opponent (that nasty bureaucratic SSA) to gather records for you.

The most successful disability firms are mills that play the numbers. Sometimes they add value to a claim, but often they don't and just ride the disabled claimant's coat tails to a sure payout. Unfortunately, places like Binder & Binder gave the profession a bad name with their business model, and well-meaning and competent attorneys will be paying for those sins for a long time.

Anonymous said...

I agree that having non-attorney reps get the same as Attorney reps, has been a drag on the raising of fees. I have never understood why non-attorney reps are allowed to represent people in SSA claims at all. Clearly, this is the practice of law. Even more strange is why would anyone hire a non-attorney rep when there are so many attorneys available to take cases.

Anonymous said...

"Clearly, this is the practice of law." -- 10:03 PM, trying out a new comedy bit.

Anonymous said...

@10:03 People hire a non atty because SSA work is all they do. They don't have to worry about being a secondary case to WC or Slip and Fall, Auto Injury or suing drug companies in class actions or other avenues the atty may be doing that pay more.

Non Atty had to pass a test, love to see some of the atty take the same test to be able to stand before SSA.

Anonymous said...


great point. kind of like states that allow attorneys to be notaries by simply signing a certification that they read up on the rules rather than taking the class like everyone else. as an insider that deals with lots of hired guns and solos dabbling in a little of everything, I agree with you that there are a good number of licensed attorneys who know embarrassingly little about SSA law and would fail the crud out of that test.

Anonymous said...

9:50 & 10:03. You'd rather have a guy off the street who passed a written gall bladder test operate on your gall bladder than a General Surgeon, who went to Medical School?

Anonymous said...

Meant to say 9:50 and 10:01

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