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Good News! Social Security Checks Get Bigger This Month

As the calendar turned to 2024, beneficiaries relying on monthly checks from the Social Security Administration (SSA) received a welcome announcement of a 3.2% benefit increase.

This adjustment, primarily benefiting Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients, aims to address the rising cost of living. However, challenges persist for SSI beneficiaries, including stringent asset limits that have not been updated since 1989.

SSI Benefit Increase and Distribution

With the 3.2% cost-of-living adjustment, the standard SSI payment for individuals has risen to $943 per month, up from $914 in 2023. Similarly, for couples on SSI, the standard payment increased to $1,415 per month, compared to $1,371 per month in the previous year. 

Approximately 7.5 million SSI recipients began receiving their enhanced benefit checks on December 29, 2023, according to the Social Security Administration.

SSI beneficiaries face strict rules regarding their financial resources. Individuals are limited to $2,000 in assets, including property, stocks, bonds, or bank accounts. For couples, the limit is set at $3,000. 

These thresholds have remained unchanged since 1989, creating challenges for beneficiaries, particularly when two benefit checks are distributed in one calendar month.

Kate Vengraitis, supervising attorney at the health and independence and SSI units at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, warns that the $2,000 asset limit can be dangerously close to standard SSI payments of $943 per month in 2024. 

Those still receiving paper checks are particularly at risk, facing overpayment notices from the SSA and an automatic 10% withholding from benefit checks.

Recognizing the challenges faced by SSI beneficiaries, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is advocating for a bill to increase asset limits. 

Read more: January 2024 Stimulus Checks And Payment Breakdown

Revitalizing Social Security: A Proposal to Raise Asset Limits for Fairer Benefits

As the calendar turned to 2024, beneficiaries relying on monthly checks from the Social Security Administration (SSA) received a welcome announcement of a 3.2% benefit increase.

The proposed legislation aims to raise the limits to $10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for married couples, a significant increase from the current $2,000 and $3,000 thresholds. Experts argue that this change would eliminate the marriage penalty currently faced by SSI beneficiaries and alleviate other complications.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon highlighted the issue during a recent Senate Banking Committee hearing, stating that some employees refrain from accepting salary increases to avoid exceeding the asset limits and losing entitled benefits. Dimon emphasized the need to address and rectify this flaw in the system.

Eligible SSI beneficiaries currently have the option to hold up to $100,000 penalty-free in ABLE accounts, which are tax-advantaged savings programs designed for individuals with disabilities. However, the proposed legislative changes seek to provide more flexibility and financial security to SSI recipients.

While the 3.2% benefit increase for 2024 is a positive step, the challenges faced by SSI beneficiaries, particularly concerning outdated asset limits, remain significant. Legislative efforts to raise these limits could bring much-needed relief to individuals and couples relying on SSI payments. 

As discussions continue, it is crucial to address these issues to ensure a fair and supportive system for those who depend on Social Security benefits for their financial well-being.

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