If you keep up with Social Security news, you know the program is in constant flux. With a new administration in the White House, however, 2017 is likely to be even more tumultuous than previous years.
Although it's still somewhat early to make a forecast with 100 percent certainty, there are some important changes that beneficiaries ought to understand.
Full retirement age is increasing
Are you looking forward to hanging up your business suit for good? Depending on when you were born, you may have to put your plans on hold.
Although the FRA, or full retirement age, is fixed at 66 for those born earlier than 1954, individuals born in 1955 will have to wait an additional two months. The FRA will continue to rise with your birth year and settle at 67 for those born later than 1959.
What does this mean for you? In addition to reducing the benefits that retirees collect, FRA changes could contribute to reduced access to full benefits for elderly disabled Americans.
Benefits are likely to change
Although President Trump campaigned on a platform of not reducing Social Security benefits, lawmakers are under no such obligations. Faced with the need to stretch funds further, some have proposed measures like modifying how benefit calculations work. Others have floated the idea of significantly cutting benefits instead of bolstering the Social Security Administration with new revenue sources.
One longstanding proposal is means testing. Such testing might consist of applying new standards to would-be beneficiaries to determine their eligibility. Although proponents of the idea say it would help redirect more benefits to those who need them the most, it could take funding away from others who were formerly eligible.
Adding hoops to jump through could drain more money away from available benefits by increasing the costs of administering Social Security. With the bulk of initial applications already receiving denials, more rigorous standards could also present new obstacles to those in need.
An uncertain future?
While it's unclear just how much Social Security disability benefits will evolve in 2017, it seems highly likely that something new is coming down the pipeline. In addition to saving as much money as they can from other sources, those who may eventually require government assistance might find it prudent to research their options sooner rather than later.
If you have questions about Social Security disability benefits, or your application for benefits has been denied by the SSA, you may wish to consult with an experienced Social Security disability attorney for guidance.