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Will Coronavirus (COVID-19) Affect Social Security Benefits in 2020 and 2021?

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Starting March 17, all local Social Security offices will be closed for in-person service due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as announced by the Social Security Administration. The decision is intended to protect older Americans and Social Security recipients with underlying medical conditions. These are the categories of people that the SSA serves on a daily basis.  The SSA is still accepting applications for Disability and Retirement online.  Our office is still filing Social Security Disability Applications online during this pandemic.  

But will the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. affect Social Security benefits and their recipients?

Although the SSA insists that it will still be able to provide “critical services” despite the shutdown, the coronavirus outbreak and its wrenching effects on the U.S. effects are likely to affect Social Security benefits. But who will be affected, and when?

Will Coronavirus (COVID-19) Affect Social Security Benefits?

As of March 17, the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has killed at least 7,100 people around the globe, including nearly 90 in the United States. With coronavirus cases reported in almost every state, the outbreak is likely to have a short-term and long-term economic impact. Meanwhile, some experts warn that the U.S. could enter a recession by the summer.

But will the coronavirus affect Social Security benefits, and particularly the next Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) update? While the potential impact of COVID-19 on COLA has very little to do with the disease itself, it has everything to do with how the deadly virus will affect the U.S. economy.

Will Coronavirus Affect the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) in 2020?

Each October, the SSA announces the next year’s COLA, which adjusts the income that Social Security recipients receive. The income adjustment in 2021 will account for estimated inflation and changes in the cost of living. The figures are based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).

The changes in the cost of living will be determined by comparing the average CPI-W for the third calendar quarter of 2019 and 2020. If the SSA sees a positive increase of at least 0.05%, Social Security beneficiaries will receive the increased percentage starting December 2020. The CPI-W is calculated based on medical care, food and beverage, housing, transportation, and other major spending categories.

So, Will Coronavirus Impact Your Social Security Benefits?

After President Trump declared a national emergency, the demand for food and other household goods has risen across the nation. Meanwhile, crude oil prices have deflated due to the fear that the pandemic may negatively affect economic growth.

Typically, inflation of food and household goods and deflation of oil prices are two key indicators of the COLA update. Although the upcoming COLA update will not arrive until October, reviewing current economic trends can give you at least some idea of how Social Security recipients may be affected by the coronavirus.

Regardless of how many Americans contract the coronavirus in the coming months, the adjustment in income will be made to ensure that both Social Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability (SSDI) recipients can afford basic needs and will not be negatively affected by economic inflation.

If you  need assistance applying for are worried that your Social Security disability benefits or assistance with a Social Security Disability appeal benefits might be affected by the coronavirus, speak with our Harrisburg Social Security disability lawyers at Ira H. Weinstock, P.C. Call at 717-238-1657 for a case evaluation. 

Resources:

blog.ssa.gov/coronavirus-covid-19-important-information-about-social-security-services/

markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/economic-outlook-us-already-in-coronavirus-recession-employment-forecast-ucla-2020-3-1029003617

Ira H. Weinstock, P.C. is located in Harrisburg, PA and serves clients in and around Central Pennsylvania. Contact our experienced Harrisburg attorneys today, we can travel if necessary.

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