Important Changes for Social Security and SSI Disability in 2024

Due to lower inflation, Social Security's cost-of-living increase is modest for 2024, but SSDI and SSI disability benefit amounts will increase slightly, as will the amount of money you can earn from working while receiving benefits.

By , Attorney · UC Law San Francisco

Social Security's "cost-of-living adjustment" (COLA) for 2024 increases disability payments for SSDI and SSI recipients by 3.2%. This year's COLA is lower than last year's due to a slowdown in price increases (inflation) over the past year. Along with the benefit increases for the year 2024, various numbers having to do with eligibility for benefits are also changing.

Social Security will start sending the increased payments to Social Security recipients in January 2024 and to SSI recipients on December 29, 2023.

How Have SSDI Amounts Changed for 2024?

Individual benefit amount. Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) payments have increased by 3.2% for 2024. Social Security expects the average monthly SSDI benefit to be $1,537 in 2024, but the most anyone can receive is $3,822 per month (there is no minimum amount).

Dependent benefit amounts. Benefit amounts for the spouses and children of disabled workers have also increased by 3.2%. The average amount received by a disability recipient with a spouse and one or more children is now $2,720.

How Has SSDI Eligibility Changed for 2024

SSDI income limits. Social Security will consider you for SSDI benefits only if you aren't working or if you're making less than $1,550 per month from working (up from $1,470 in 2023). If you're legally blind, you can make up to $2,590 per month. These are the "substantial gainful activity" (SGA) limits. On an annual basis, you can't make more than $18,600, or $31,080 if you're blind.

SSDI unearned income limits. As to other income (like gifts, interest income, or unemployment benefits), the SSDI program has no limits. SSDI recipients aren't subject to an asset limit either. That's because SSDI is an insurance program that people pay into out of every paycheck; it's not a low-income program like SSI (see below).

Number of work credits. To be "insured" (eligible) for SSDI, you must have paid into the system for a number of years, either by paying FICA taxes in a job covered by Social Security or by paying self-employment taxes. Social Security keeps track of how much you've worked by giving you "credits" for each calendar quarter you worked.

The number of work credits you need varies for people of different ages, but to give you some examples, a 50-year-old needs 28 credits (7 years), and a 60-year-old needs 38 credits (9.5 years).

Income per credit. The amount of income needed to earn a credit for one calendar quarter of Social Security coverage increases in 2024, to $1,730, but you can only earn four credits per year. (See our article on SSDI work credits for more information.)

How Have SSI Amounts Changed for 2024?

Federal monthly SSI payment. The new federal payment for disabled SSI recipients is $943 per month. For married couples who live together and who both receive SSI, the monthly payment is $1,415. SSI recipients will receive less if they receive free rent or food from relatives, or if they're making any income.

State supplementary payments. Most states also add a state supplement onto the federal amount, at least for some categories of SSI recipients. Some states are also increasing the supplement amounts for 2024, but many have not.

How Has SSI Eligibility Changed for 2024

SSI income limit when you apply. When you apply for SSI, you can't be making more than $1,550 per month from working. But if you're legally blind, you can't be making more than $2,590 per month.

After you've started receiving SSI benefits, you're no longer prevented from making above $1,550 (or $2,590 for those who are blind or have low vision)—those are the SGA limits and they no longer apply.

SSI income limit after approval. The SSI income limit applies after you've started receiving benefits. Here's how it works. Any income you have (earned income like wages or unearned income like gifts) over $943 will reduce your benefit. But Social Security doesn't count over half of the income you receive from work.

In 2024, for example, if you make $625 per month and you live on your own, your SSI benefit would be $673 per month. The more you make, the lower your SSI benefit will be.

Here's another example: if you make $1,475 per month, your benefit would only be $248. (The way the math works is that you can make $1,970 from working before your SSI payment is reduced to zero.)

Student income exclusion. For students who receive SSI, the income exclusion amount (the amount of income you can make without losing your benefits) is $2,290 per month, up to an annual limit of $9,230.

SSI asset limit. The resource limits for SSI remain the same as last year: $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple. The asset limit hasn't been raised since 1989.

Updated October 12, 2023

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