Social Security and SSI Benefit Amounts and Other Figures Change in 2015

The Social Security Administration has announced a 1.7% increase in Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for 2015, a slightly larger increase than the year before. Increased payments to Social Security recipients begin January 1, 2015, while increased payments to SSI recipients will show up in their December 31, 2014 check.

The new SSI federal base amount is $733 per month for an individual and $1,100 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 $1,328 in 2015, the average disability benefit will increase to $1,165, and the average surviving spouse benefit is expected to go up to $1,274. The maximum Social Security retirement benefit will be $2,663 per month in 2015, though few people are able to collect this amount.

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 $1,090 per month to qualify for benefits (or $1,820 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 $780 per month.
  • SSI income limit. The new federal income limit for SSI is $733 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. You can have earned income (from work) of over $733, but it's likely to reduce one's SSI benefits. Once you reach $1,551 in earned income, you can no longer qualify for any SSI.
  • Student income. The income exclusion amount for students is now $1,780 per month (up to an annual limit of $7,180).
  • Assets. 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 $15,720 per year ($1,310 per month). But in the year the recipient reaches full retirement age, he or she can now make up to $3,490 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 $118,500 in 2015, up from $117,000 in 2014. There is no limit to the amount of income subject to the Medicare tax.

The Social Security figures and limits for 2014 can be found in the 2014 update.