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2 notices from the SSA: rising benefits and self-selected gender

Social Security Disability benefits, along with retiree benefits, will be increasing by 8.7% in January 2023. That means that Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries will see larger benefit checks.

The reason for the increase is a cost-of-living increase, or “COLA.” The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers a COLA every year, but when inflation is low, it doesn’t raise benefits. The 2023 COLA will be the largest in about 40 years, according to the Associated Press. The average Social Security Disability beneficiary will receive about $119 more each month, according to an SSA fact sheet.

The reason for the large COLA is that inflation is eating away at benefits. A government report shows that inflation grew by 8.2% over the last 12 months.

Inflation hits Social Security recipients harder than non-recipients. This is because they tend to spend more of their budget on things that are increasing in cost, like food and healthcare. With budgets tight, the COLA is welcome, even if some worry it won’t be enough.

The Social Security Administration will allow you to choose what gender it uses for you

In an effort to promote equity, the SSA announced recently that people will be allowed to choose whether the agency’s records identify them as male or female. The person’s choice will be accepted even if it contradicts the gender on their identity documents, such as passports and driver’s licenses.

Although only “male” and “female” are available now, the agency told the Associated Press that it is considering an “X” option. That would be for people who do not identify as either male or female.

The SSA is not the only agency attempting to make it easier for transgender people to have documents that express their gender identity.

Since 2021, the State Department has allowed applicants for U.S. visas to self-identify their gender, including an “X” option. The State Department will accept the gender identity the person selects even if it does not match their citizenship or identity documents.

Likewise, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have new policies protecting transgender people.

Remember: Social Security Disability is insurance that most people pay into as part of their payroll taxes. If you are completely disabled from working and will be for a year or longer, you probably qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. If your rightful claim is denied, you have the right to appeal.