Over 70 million Americans receive Social Security and Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, benefits. Therefore, the changes that happen to Social Security – like a cost of living adjustment – are critical for a significant portion of the population. However, many individuals do not know the specifics about social security and its benefits. Below are commonly asked questions about social security benefits and why an elder law attorney may be useful for those thinking about taking social security benefits.
What Are Social Security Benefits?
Social Security helps older Americans, disabled workers, and families where a spouse or parent has died. For retired Americans who received Social Security, these benefits replace a percentage of their pre-retirement income. Put simplistically, the higher lifetime earnings an individual accrues, the higher benefits they will receive. However, the amount an individual will receive every month depends on their earnings, and when they choose to start taking benefits. If an individual starts to take benefits at retirement age – which is currently 66 years and 2 months – the percentage of their pre-retirement earnings they receive is lower than if they start benefits after retirement age.
What is a Cost of Living Adjustment?
Every year, Social Security benefits are slightly increased to reflect growing prices and the actual cost of living in America right now. This is called a Cost of Living Adjustment. The Social Security Administration recently announced that social security beneficiaries will see a 1.3% increase in their monthly checks in 2021. Currently, the average monthly benefit for a retired worker is $1,523. With the cost of living adjustment implemented, that monthly check will be $1,543.
However, this is not necessarily all good news. This is lower than the average cost of living adjustment. Since 2010, the average cost of living adjustment has been 1.4%. And between 1999 and 2009, the annual increases were 3%. Additionally, benefits do not go as far as they did before the COVID-19 pandemic, as older individuals are spending more money to meet their basic needs.
Can an Elder Law Attorney Help Me?
As many older individuals start to receive Social Security benefits, other issues may arise. Securing senior housing, accessing and paying for quality care, and applying for Medicare or Medicaid are some of these issues that impact a majority of aging Americans. An experienced elder law attorney will not only help individuals with any of the above issues, but also with applying for Social Security benefits – which is sometimes more complicated than expected. Additionally, deciding when to start taking Social Security benefits is an important decision. An elder law attorney can help, as they have experience with a diverse set of clients and needs, and can make the most out of Social Security benefits, so individuals are financially secure.
Need Assistance from An Elder Law Attorney?
If you or a loved one has questions about Social Security, contact the Houston elder law attorneys at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC. With decades of experience handling a wide range of elder law and estate planning matters, we understand that every client is unique, as is every client’s situation. Because of this, we pledge to take an individual approach to each of our client’s cases, listening to what is important to them. To talk to an attorney today and to schedule a free consultation, call us at 713-333-8900.