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What are the Changes to Social Security in 2022 and how will those changes affect me?

Appealing for benefits is best done under the guidance of an experienced disability lawyer.

What changes are coming to Social Security in 2022?

Author: Attorney Lloyd Bemis


  1.    New Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA).
  2.    Social Security monthly benefits will increase.
  3.    Substantial Gainful Activity will increase.
  4.    Full retirement age increases.
  5.    The maximum Social Security monthly retirement benefit increases.
  6.    Amount of earnings subject to Social Security payroll tax increases.
  7.    The amount of earnings needed for Social Security credits increases.
  8.    Retirement earnings test tax exempt amount increases.
  9.    Changes to Medicare premiums and coverage.

Next year approximately 70 million Americans who receive Social Security benefits will see an increase in their monthly payments. Changes will affect people with disabilities, their spouses, and their children as well as those receiving Social Security Income (SSI) and retirees. This increase will be effective in January 2022 for people receiving Social Security disability income and retirement benefits and on December 30, 2021 for those receiving SSI.


Changes to social security in 2022

  1.   New Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA).
  2. The purpose of COLA is to ensure that the purchasing power of Social Security and SSI benefits is not diminished by inflation. Cost of living is based on the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index (CPI-W) and determined by taking the average CPI-W reading from the third quarter of the current year (July – September) and comparing it with the CPI-W of the previous year. Inflation rises when CPI-W goes up and prices for goods and services increase. COLA helps offset these costs. If there is no increase in the Consumer Price Index, there is no increase in COLA. The cost-of-living increase in January 2022 is 5.9%, which is the highest increase since 1982.


  3.   Social Security monthly benefits will increase.
  4. In 2022, the average monthly benefit for a disabled worker, spouse, and one or two children is estimated to be $2,383 (up from $2,250) and the average payment for all disabled workers is estimated to be $1,358 (up from $1,282). The increase in monthly payments for retirees will depend on whether or not the beneficiary is covered by Medicare and if a monthly premium for Medicare Part B is deducted from their benefit, but the average monthly retirement benefit will increase approximately $92.


    In general:

    Category Before COLA After COLA
    All retired workers $1,565.00 $1,657.00
    Aged couple, both receiving benefits $2,599.00 $2,753.00
    Widowed mother and two children $3,009.00 $3,187.00
    Aged widow(er) alone $1,467.00 $1,553.00
    Disabled worker, spouse and one or more children $2,250.00 $2,383.00
    All disabled workers $1,282.00 $1,358.00

    Payments to SSI beneficiaries will also rise with the average monthly payment for an individual increasing to $841 per month (up from $794 per month) and $1,191 per month for a couple (up from $1,261 per month).

    Note that an SSI beneficiary’s resource limits (the amount a beneficiary’s countable resources are worth) do not change in 2022, remaining at $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple.


    If you have been denied disability don’t give up! Contact a Disability lawyer at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and get the benefits you deserve.


  5.   Substantial Gainful Activity will increase.
  6. Each year the Social Security Administration updates the monthly earnings threshold known as Substantial Gainful Activity or SGA. This is the amount of monthly income a beneficiary can earn before Social Security benefits will cease and will depend on the nature of a person’s disability. In 2021, SGA for a blind person was $2,190 per month; in 2022, it will increase to $2,260 per month. In 2022 a nonblind person can earn $1,350 per month (up from $1,310 per month in 2021). The threshold for a Trial Work Period or TWP will also increase. A Trial Work Period is an interval of time where a beneficiary attempts to return to work and earn some income, but may still collect Social Security benefits. The TWP for 2022 is $970 per month, an increase from $940 per month in 2021.


  7.   Full retirement age increases.
  8. Full retirement age or FRA is the age a person is eligible to collect 100% of their monthly Social Security retirement benefit and is determined by birth year. There have been 11 increases to FRA since 1983 when amendments to the Social Security Act introduced staggered increases in FRA. The 12th and final increase will occur in 2022. Full retirement age will increase from 66 years and 10 months for those born in 1959 to 67 years for all people born in 1960 or later. Taking retirement before a person reaches FRA will mean a permanent reduction to their monthly retirement benefit, while waiting until FRA can increase the monthly benefit above 100%.


  9.   The maximum Social Security monthly retirement benefit increases.
  10. Retired workers who are well-to-do will collect a larger retirement benefit in 2022. In 2021, retirement income was capped at $3,148 per month, regardless of pre-retirement income. In 2022, this monthly payment will increase $197 to $3,345 per month.


    To receive this maximum payment, a retired worker needs to satisfy three requirements:

    1.    They must wait to full retirement age to claim benefits;
    2.   They must have worked at least 35 years; and
    3.   They must have reached or surpassed the maximum taxable earnings cap in each of the 35 years Social Security uses to calculate an individual’s retirement benefit.


  11.   Amount of earnings subject to Social Security payroll tax increases.
  12. All earned income between $0.01 and $147,000 (up from $142,800 in 2021) will be subject to the Social Security payroll tax of 12.4%. Individuals who are employed split this tax with their employer while self-employed individuals are responsible for the full 12.4%. For example, an individual with wages equal to or larger than $147,000 would pay $9,114.00 in Social Security taxes in 2022 and his or her employer would contribute the same amount. If self-employed, that individual would pay $18,228.


  13.   The amount of earnings needed for Social Security credits increases.
  14. To qualify for Social Security benefits, individuals must earn credits by working in a job that withholds Social Security taxes. Social Security bases these “work credits” on the amount an individual earns in any given year, using their earnings and work history to determine eligibility for disability benefits, retirement benefits, and survivor benefits. A person must earn 40 work credits over their lifetime to be eligible for Social Security benefits, with a maximum of 4 work credits per year. Each year the amount of earnings needed for credits increases as average earnings levels. In 2022, one work credit will be awarded for every $1,510 (up from $1,470 in 2021) in earned income and $6,040 in earnings would net 4 credits.


  15.   Retirement earnings test tax exempt amount increases.
  16. Social Security withholds benefits if a beneficiary exceeds a certain income level and if they are under full retirement age. For individuals who are working while collecting Social Security benefits but are under full retirement age, the income limit for 2022 will be $19,560 per year or $1,630 per month. This is an increase from $18,960 per year in 2021. One dollar in benefits will be withheld for every $2.00 in earnings above the limit. For individuals who reach full retirement age in 2022 and continue to work while collecting benefits, the limit is $51,960 per year or $4,330 per month (up from $50,520 per year and $4,210 per month). One dollar in benefits will be withheld for every $3 in earnings above the limit.


  17.   Changes to Medicare premiums and coverage.
  18. Social Security beneficiaries who are enrolled in Medicare will see changes to premiums, coverage, deductibles and coinsurance amounts. Part A premiums will remain at $0 for most beneficiaries, but for those who have not paid the required amount of Medicare taxes, Part A premiums are projected to rise from $471, but the exact amount is still to be determined. The Part B premium is expected to increase to $158.50 per month (up from $148.50) with a $217 deductible. In contrast, premiums for Medicare Advantage plans will be lower, with the average plan estimated at $19 per month. Most Medicare Advantage Plans include Plan D prescription coverage, but for those who are not enrolled in those plans, the average premium for Part D drug coverage in 2022 is projected to be $33 per month.


    You will notice a change in your 2022 Social Security benefits whether you are a person with a disability or retired.

    The Social Security Administration posts updates online for all beneficiaries who have a my Social Security account. You can sign up online to view changes and receive courtesy notifications at https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount.


    best social security disability lawyer
    Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you are not able to work due to accident or illness, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.


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contact@brrlaw.com

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Attorney Lloyd BemisAuthor: Attorney Lloyd Bemis has been practicing law for over 35 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion Gold rated by Martindale Hubbell. Through his extensive litigation Mr. Bemis obtained dual board certifications from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Lloyd is admitted to practice in the United States District Court - all Texas Districts and has argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. Mr. Bemis is a member of the Travis County Bar Association. He has been active in the American Association for Justice and is a past Director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Bemis and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.

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