Braille Monitor                                                                 February 1985

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Social Security and SSI Facts for 1985

by James Gashel

Each year there are several adjustments made in tax rates, exempt earnings amounts, and benefits payable under Social Security and Supplemental Security Income Programs. Here are the facts for 1985.

Tax Rate -- The tax rate for employees and their employers during 1985 (effective January 1) is 7.05%. This compares to 7.0% during 1984. Self-employed persons will pay into Social Security at the rate of 14.10% during 1985 as compared to 14.0% during 1984.

Ceiling on Earnings Subject to Tax -- Social Security contributions will be paid during 1985 on the first $39,600 of earnings for employed and self-employed wage earners. This compares to the 1984 ceiling of $37,800.

Exempt Earnings -- The earnings exemption for blind people receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits is the same as the exempt amount for individuals retiring at age 65. The monthly exempt amount during 1985 is $610. This compares to $580 during 1984. Technically, this exemption is referred to as an amount of earnings which does not show "Substantial Gainful Activity." Earnings above $610 per month for a blind beneficiary of disability insurance during 1985 will show Substantial Gainful Activity if no further deductions permitted by law can be made.

Social Security Benefit Increases -- All Social Security benefits, including retirement, survivors, disability, and dependence benefits are increased, beginning January, 1985, by 3.5% over the amount paid in 1984. The exact dollar increase for any individual will depend upon the amount being paid. During 1984, a disabled or retired worker received $368 per month based on earnings averaging the federal minimum wage. But, during 1985, the benefit payable at this level of average earnings will be $369.50 per month. According to Social Security information, the average earner is said to have an income of $17,056 expected for 1985. Persons with an average earnings record will be paid $548.40 this year as opposed to $542.80 for an average wage earner in 1984. During 1985, the maximum Social Security benefit paid to a disabled or retired worker will be $717.20, as opposed to $703.60, during 1984. This does not include family benefits for retirees or disabled people and their dependents.

SSI Resources Raises -- There is a permanent raise, effective January 1, 1985, in the amount of resources permitted for SSI recipients. Since 1974, the limits have been $1,500 for individuals and $2,250 for couples. This includes checking accounts, savings accounts, cash value of insurance, stocks and bonds, and similar assets. The new resource limits are $1,600 for individuals and $2,400 for couples. Anyone who was previously denied SSI checks on the basis of excess resources should reapply if current resources are within these limits.

Standard Benefit Increase -- Beginning January, 1985, the federal payment amounts for SSI individuals and couples are as follows: Individuals, $325 per month; couples, $488 per month. These amounts are increased from $314 per month and $472 per month paid to individuals and couples during 1984.