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Social Security Updates - Do They Affect You?

The Social Security program includes an annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). The purpose of the COLA is to ensure that the purchasing power of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits is not eroded by inflation.

The COLA is based on the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) from the third quarter of the last year a COLA was determined to the third quarter of the current year. If there is no increase, there can be no COLA.

With consumer prices down over the past year, monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for nearly 65 million Americans will not automatically increase in 2016.

How long does it take to process a Social Security Disability application?

When an individual applies for Social Security Disability Income or Supplemental Security Income based upon a disability, the processing time can be long. Following the submission of an initial application, a determination is made by Disability Determination Services whether the applicant qualifies for disability. Once this decision is received, if the claimant is denied, they must request reconsideration. This process can take several months. If the claimant is denied again at the reconsideration level, they must request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.

Based on the large number of applicants for disability and the request for hearing, the wait time can be long. The average processing time is 512 days. There are 163 offices that handle hearing requests. The fastest processing time is 313 days and the slowest processing time is 755 days. Fortunately, for Minnesota residents, the Minneapolis Office of Disability Adjudication and Review is ranked #5 out of 163 hearing offices with an average processing time of 390 days.

If you have any questions regarding your Social Security benefits or Social Security Disability, please feel free to contact Van P. Jacobsen at Bird, Jacobsen & Stevens, P.C.

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