Social Security Announces Increases for 2001!

SSI Federal Benefit Rate to Increase

The SSI Federal Benefit Rate (FBR) for a single individual increased in January 2001 from $512 per month to $530 per month. For a couple, the FBR increased from $769 to $796. The FBR is the maximum amount someone on SSI can receive if they have no other income. The FBR is also important in calculating how a person’s SSI payment is affected when they work. To find out how this applies to your situation, call the Minnesota Work Incentives Connection (651) 632-5113.

SSI resource limits (total earnings) remain the same in 2001 ($2,000 for an individual; $3,000 per couple).

SSDI/RSDI Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)
In January 2001, SSDI and RSDI benefit payments increased by 3.5 percent. SSDI and RSDI beneficiaries should have received letters from the Social Security Administration in December, telling them exactly how much their monthly benefit will be for 2001.

Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) Level for People with Disabilities:
The Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level for people with disabilities increased from $700 to $740 per month in January 2001. The SGA level is maximum income a person can earn and still qualify for SSI, SSDI, or RSDI. Once enrolled in one of these programs, the SGA is only relevant is a person is on SSDI or RSDI (SSI uses a different formula). Once they’ve completed a Trial Work Period, persons on SSDI/RSDI risk losing all of their cash benefits if their earned income goes over the SGA level.

The SGA amount will be adjusted automatically each year, based on Social Security’s national average wage index. The amount will not decrease, but will either increase or stay the same at the beginning of each year.

SGA for People who are Blind:
The SGA for People who are Blind increased from $1,170 to $1,240 per month in January 2001. This amount is adjusted each year.

Medicare Part B Premium (for persons on SSDI or RSDI)
The Medicare Part B premium increased from $45.50 to $50.00 per month in 2001.

People on Medical Assistance for Employed Persons with Disabilities (MA-EPD) can continue to have their Medicare Part B premiums reimbursed through their county financial workers.

Trial Work Period Months (for persons on SSDI or RSDI)
The minimum amount of earnings for a Trial Work Period month increased from $200 to $530 in January 2001. This amount will be adjusted automatically in future years. The amount will not decrease, but will either increase or stay the same at the beginning of each year.

The Trial Work Period is nine months (not necessarily consecutive) during which an SSDI/RSDI beneficiary may test his or her ability to work. Beginning in January 2001, if a person earns less than $530 in a month, that month will not count as one of the nine, Trial Work Period months.

Student Earned Income Exclusion (for people on SSI)
The Student Earned Income Exclusion is an SSI work incentive, which enables students to earn money to pay for school expenses without having all of that income reduce their SSI payment. In January 2001, the Student Earned Income Exclusion increased so that up to $1,290 per month may be excluded, with an annual limit of $5,200. It will automatically be adjusted in future years, based on the cost of living. The amount will not decrease, but will either increase or stay the same at the beginning of each year.