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Woman helping elderly mother pay bills.

Millions of Americans every year depend on the social security benefits they receive to survive. Whether you’re disabled, retired, or receiving survivor’s benefits, this income can be the difference between eating, paying the bills, and even keeping a roof over your head. It can also, unfortunately, be confusing as the benefits seem to change constantly.

Fortunately, the changes for 2016 have been subtle and most people won’t see much difference, but they do have the potential to affect some recipients. Read some vital information for those who receive Social Security benefits, the changes that came down the pike in 2016, and how an attorney can help.

Closing Social Security Benefits Loopholes

There are a number of loopholes that have been closed this year. One of these is the spousal benefit loophole, where the spouse who makes less money files for spousal benefits under SSI, while the other files for primary benefits, then suspends them until they need them later. This allows the primary benefits to grow, while the spousal benefits are collected. This file and suspend loophole has been closed this year.

Likewise, a similar loophole allowing someone to file to collect spousal benefits while allowing their primary benefits to grow with their work, has also been closed. Now, once you file for spousal benefits you cannot change to retired worker later.

Cost of Living Adjustment

People collecting benefits from the SSA this year did not receive a boost to their checks based on cost of living. This may seem unusual, but it is based on the inflation rate known as the CPI-W, or Consumer Price Index. This CPI-W actually went down by 0.4 percent this year, but benefits did not decrease with it.

During the course of 2016, however, the CPI-W went up by just over three-quarters of a percent, so benefits will see an increase of about 0.3 percent next year. They aren’t going up by more because this year’s benefits were allowed to remain stable despite the drop in CPI-W.

Maximizing Benefits

For the vast majority of social security recipients, this won’t reflect any change in their benefits at all. Those who took advantage of the closed loopholes were in the vast minority, and the rest will see a modest increase next year. Getting the most out of your benefits, however, can mean seeking help from someone knowledgeable in how the process works.

There are benefits out there that you may not even know exist. These vary greatly based on your individual condition, so it can be hard to know what to look for without help. This is where you want to secure the services of a qualified social security and disability benefits attorney.

We’ve been helping disabled individuals in the Greater Los Angeles area, the Inland Empire, and Orange County get the disability benefits they need for years. Call Dr. Bill LaTour and his team today at 800-803-5090  or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation.