Many Americans rely on Social Security as an important part of their income. From supplemental income to disability benefits and a wide range of other services, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides vital resources to many. When the SSA makes changes, it affects millions of Americans. This year, Social Security recipients will see a number of changes including: a cost of living (COLA) increase, expand hours at public offices, and increased efforts to combat scams.
Social Security Income Increase
Every year, the amount that people can expect to receive is reviewed and adjusted. These changes can have a large impact on the lives of those who rely on this money to get by. The good news is that this year, these people will see a slight raise to their income.
The cost of living adjustment (COLA) for 2020 will be 1.6%. While it is good to see the amount increasing to reflect rising costs, the amount is 43% less than the 2.8% increase the Social Security recipients received in 2019. According to the SSA, the COLA is related to the Consumer Price Index as calculated by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics
According to the Social Security Administration’s press release announcing the COLA increase, the maximum amount of taxable earning subject to Social Security tax will also increase from $132,900 to $137,700.
New Tactics for Fighting Scams
In 2020, the SSA has also ramped up efforts to combat scams targeting Social Security recipients. Of particular concern to the SSA is a continuing problem of scammers stealing information and money from people. The scam has entered into a brazen new phase, criminals will email fake documents to victims that appear to be on “official letterhead and use government jargon to convince victims they are legitimate.”
“I want every American to know that if a suspicious caller states there is a problem with their Social Security number or account, they should hang up and never give the caller money or personal information. People should go online to oig.ssa.gov to report the scam call to Social Security,” Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul said in a press release.
While the SSA will call people, they will not do the following:
- “Tell you that your Social Security number has been suspended.
- Contact you to demand an immediate payment.
- Ask you for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
- Require a specific means of debt repayment, like a prepaid debit card, a retail gift card, or cash.
- Demand that you pay a Social Security debt without the ability to appeal the amount you owe.
- Promise a Social Security benefit approval, or increase, in exchange for information or money.”
Individuals who believe they may have experienced a scam attempt can report the attempt using the SSA’s new online form at oig.ssa.gov.
Extended Office Hours Nationwide
In 2020, individuals will enjoy offices opening on Wednesday afternoons. Since late 2012, SSA offices have closed at noon on Wednesdays. Now, offices are open until 4:00pm on Wednesdays making SSA field office hours 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Beyond the extended hours, the SSA has hired thousands of employees and will continue hiring hundreds more to support the national phone lines. For additional information, see the SSA’s full press release.
Have Questions about Social Security?
If you have questions about Social Security, including Social Security Disability (SSD), contact our law firm to learn more about how we can help. Our firm actively investigates and represents clients for Social Security Disability and other related matters.