How the Cost-of-Living Adjustment Affects Disabled Workers
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What the 2022 Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) Increase Means for Disabled Workers

Nov 10, 2021 | Disability Benefits Law, Social Security Disability

By Molly Friedman, Esq., 301.563.6685

Starting in 2022, benefits payable for Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will automatically increase by 5.9%. This is due to the annual Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA).

The COLA will be in effect for payments beginning in January 2022 for SSD benefits and payments made on December 31, 2021, for January 2022 benefits for SSI. As a result, beneficiaries will need to take no action to ensure that their benefits increase.

The COLA for the next year is calculated based on the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W) from the third quarter of the previous year through the third quarter of the current year.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics determines the CPI-W in the Department of Labor.  The intention of the COLA is to increase the benefit amount in a way that mirrors national inflation. The COLA for January 2022 is the largest increase since January 2009 and surpasses the more modest increases of January 2020 (1.6%) and January 2021 (1.3%).

Current SSI and SSDI beneficiaries should be receiving a letter with notification of your new benefit amount in the mail starting in early December. Per the SSA, this information also is accessed via your online portal.

With the COLA increase, the Social Security Administration estimates that the average monthly Social Security Benefit payable in January 2022 for all Disabled Workers will be $1,358.00. For a family with a Disabled Worker, Spouse, and One or More Children, SSA estimates the average monthly benefit will be $2,383.00.

In addition, there is an increase in what is considered Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). The amount of SGA is essential in determining eligibility for SSD. For non-Blind Individuals, the SGA for 2022 is $1,350 per month, and for Blind individuals, SGA is $2,260 per month. There is also an increase in the earnings threshold for the Trial Work Period (TWP) to $970 per month. This means that if a beneficiary attempts to return to work if they earn above $970 per month, it counts as credit towards the nine-month maximum for the Trial Work Period.

For individuals receiving both Long Term Disability (LTD) and SSD benefits, like many of our clients, the good news is that most policies do not recalculate offsets based on COLA. Therefore, the COLA will increase your SSD benefits without any impact on your LTD benefits.

Here at Andalman and Flynn, we’ve seen 20 years of COLA increases and can help discuss how the COLA may impact other disability retirement benefits you have. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us for a free consultation with questions you may have. 

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About Andalman & Flynn, P.C.: Andalman & Flynn, P.C. serves clients throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia, offering compassionate, quality service and results-driven representation across a broad range of legal areas. With a concentration on disability benefits law and family law, the firm focuses on cases that impact the rights of everyone, and they are there for clients when responsive legal help is most critical. For more information about Andalman & Flynn, please visit, or call 301.563.6685.