It’s been awhile since Social Security recipients received an increase to their monthly benefits. The Social Security Administration announced that monthly benefits will increase by 3.6%. Prior to this increase, there hadn’t been a cost-of-living adjustment (COLAE) in two years. People who are dependent on every single dollar that comes in need yearly increases in their Social Security benefits.

While this represents a small increase in monthly benefits, it is especially important if you are collecting Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. The disabled have often lost important years of earning ability due to injuries or a chronic condition. The fact that you could not work as long as someone who retires at 65, means that you were unable to reach your highest earning potential, and therefore receive lower monthly benefits because of that earnings loss.    

While a 3.6% increase may not seem like much in the short term, here’s why yearly increases are so important:  If your monthly benefit is $1,000 in 2009 and you received a COLA of 3.6% in 2010 and 2011, your monthly rate would now be $,1,111 per month starting in January 2012; instead that same benefit is now only $1,036 per month beginning in January 2012. Over time, these small increases will pay off.   

If there had been an increase in the past two years, not only would your current benefits be higher, but you would have received more money during those two years as well. It is important to ensure these much needed Cost of Living adjustments continue.   

How can you ensure that you receive an increase each year? I strongly recommend that you write your congressman to say thank you and at the same time provide a reminder about just how important these cost of living increases are. It may seem like a fruitless endeavor, but reminding your congressman how important each and every one of these increases is can help ensure the COLA increases continue each year. We’ve all heard stories of one or two letters to a congressman are sometimes the only reason that a congressperson takes up a particular cause.   How does your congressman know how important this is unless he or she hears from constituents that rely on these checks every month?   

I represent many clients who have become totally disabled, either as a result of a work related injury or a chronic illness. I see on a regular basis just how important each dollar is. Please contact me if you have questions about whether Social Security Disability is right for you.