Social Security and SSI Benefit Amounts and Other Figures Change in 2014

Update: You can find the 2015 benefit amount increases in Nolo's 2015 Social Security COLA update.

The Social Security Administration announced a 1.5% increase in Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for 2014. Increased payments to Social Security recipients begin January 1, 2014, while increased payments to SSI recipients will show up in their December 31, 2013 check.

The new SSI base amount is $721 per month for an individual and $1,082 per month for a couple. The SSI payment amounts are higher in states that pay a supplementary SSI payment.

While Social Security retirement and disability benefit amounts depend on the lifetime earnings of the recipient, the average retirement benefit will go up to $1,294 in 2014, the average disability benefit will increase to $1,148, and the average surviving spouse benefit is expected to go up to $1,243. The  maximum  Social Security retirement benefit will be $2,642 per month in 2014.

Along with this benefit increase, many important figures having to do with Social Security and SSI eligibility, taxes, and benefits have changed.

  • Disability eligibility.  For disability purposes, an applicant for SSDI or SSI must be making less than $1,070 per month to qualify for benefits (or $1,800 if blind). Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recipients who attempt to return to work through a trial work program will have a month count as a trial month if they make more than $770 per month.
  • SSI eligibility.  The new federal income limit for SSI is $721 per month, but complicated rules govern what income is countable and what income is not, and some states allow SSI applicants to have more income. In short, income over $721 is likely to reduce or end one's SSI benefits, though you can make more money and still qualify for some SSI. But once you reach $1,527 in income, you can no longer qualify for any SSI.
  • The income exclusion amount for students is now $1,750 per month (up to an annual limit of $7,060). The resource (asset) limits for SSI remains the  same ($2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple).
  • Early retirement and working.  Those who collect early retirement benefits but continue to work have their benefits reduced when they make over $15,480 per year ($1,290 per month). But in the year the recipient reaches full retirement age, he or she can now make up to $3,450 per month without having retirement benefits taken away. (After the worker reaches full retirement age, benefits aren't reduced regardless of the any amount of work or earnings.)
  • Social Security taxes.  The maximum amount of earnings that is subject to the Social Security tax is $117,000 in 2014, up from $113,700 in 2013. There is no limit to the amount of income subject to the Medicare tax.

The Social Security figures and limits for 2013 can be found in the 2013 update.