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How Social Security Disability Is (and Isn’t) Changing in 2023

Written by
Jackie Jakab, Disability Attorney
Jackie Jakab
Lead Attorney
Published March 3, 2023
Updated May 4, 2023
5 min read
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Every year the Social Security Administration (SSA) makes certain changes to its disability programs. Some of these changes are automatic and don’t change the way benefits work, like annual increases of the maximum benefit amount to keep up with inflation. Sometimes there are also bigger changes, like increases to how much a disability lawyer can charge. Below are five changes you should know for Social Security disability benefits in 2023 and how they could affect you.

5 changes to disability in 2023 and how they could affect you

While most of the disability program is unchanged from last year, here are five changes you should know about for disability benefits in 2023:

  • Higher SSDI payments

  • Higher SSI payments

  • Increased substantial gainful activity (SGA) limits

  • New work credit limits

  • Simplified SSA website

Higher SSDI payments

The change: To keep up with inflation and the rising cost of living, SSDI benefits in 2023 are worth 8.7% more than they were in 2022. The maximum SSDI check is now $3,627 per month.

How it could affect you: This update means bigger disability checks for SSDI recipients. Every year the SSA makes a cost of living adjustment (COLA) and increases the value of disability payments. The SSDI increase is automatic. You don’t need to do anything to get it. If you already get disability, nothing will change about your payment schedule. The only difference is that the SSDI COLA for 2023 means your benefits are worth 8.7% more.

Higher SSI payments

The change: The maximum Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit payment for 2023 is $914 per month for individuals and $1,371 per month for couples. This is an 8.7% increase from 2022.

How it could affect you: The latest cost of living adjustment from the SSA means that SSI checks will be worth more in 2023. More people can also qualify for SSI now that you can have up to $914 of countable income. Last year, having that much income would have disqualified you. However, earning near that limit could result in low monthly SSI payments. (Learn more in our guide to calculating your SSI payment amount.) For current SSI recipients, the 8.7% COLA is automatic.

Increased SGA limits

The change: You can earn up to $1,470 of pre-tax income per month in 2023 and still qualify for disability benefits (up from $1,350 per month in 2022). This substantial gainful activity limit is the same whether you are applying for benefits or already receiving them. Blind individuals have a higher SGA limit of $2,460 per month in 2023.

How it could affect you: The SGA limit is the maximum you can make while still qualifying for SSDI and SSI. The higher earning limit means that more people could be eligible for benefits in 2023 than in 2022. It also means that people already on benefits could increase their earnings slightly without losing benefits. Keep in mind that earning even close to the limit can make it harder to qualify for (or keep) disability benefits. SSI applicants are also unlikely to get much or any payments if they have monthly earnings above $914 monthly, even though the SGA limit is higher.

New work credit limits

The change: In 2023, workers will earn 1 credit per $1,640 of the income you earn (including self-employment income). You can earn up to four work credits per year so if you earn at least $6,560, you will earn the maximum of four credits for 2023.

How it could affect you: The SSA uses work credits to determine your technical eligibility for SSDI. The higher limit means that you will need to earn more in 2023 to earn the same number of work credits. You can qualify for SSDI if you have earned at least 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you became disabled. As a rule of thumb, someone who has worked for years — including at least five of the past 10 years — can qualify for SSDI.

Simplified SSA site

The change: The SSA released a newly designed website for 2023.

How it could affect you: The new SSA site is much easier to navigate. It’s easier to check the status of your disability application and to file for an appeal. However, this change won’t affect your payments or the application process. We still recommend working with an experienced disability lawyer to help you build the best appeal case possible, because the SSA will continue to use the same evaluation process. For those who already receive Social Security disability benefits, the new site makes it easier to update direct deposit and other payment information.

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3 things that aren’t changing for 2023

Most of the Social Security disability program hasn’t changed from 2022 to 2023. In particular, here are three things that aren’t changing about SSDI or SSI this year:

  • The application process is the same.

  • SSI resource limits are still $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for couples.

  • Maximum lawyer fees are unchanged from last year.

Disability application process

The process for applying for SSDI and SSI is the same in 2023 as it was in 2022. If you already have an application in progress, you can expect everything to continue the same as before. If you haven’t applied yet, you will use the same application as before. For help getting started, try our step-by-step guide to the disability application process.

SSI resource limits

To qualify for SSI benefits, your savings and other assets must be worth $2,000 or less in 2023 ($3,000 for couples). These resource limits are unchanged from last year. The maximum possible benefit is higher ($914 for 2023) but other SSI eligibility rules are the same.

Maximum disability lawyer fees

The maximum disability lawyer fee is 25% of your first disability check (which includes your back pay), up to a maximum of $7,200. This fee and maximum payment are both the same as they were in 2022. If you work with a good lawyer, you should also only ever pay this fee if they actually win your case.

Common questions about 2023 disability payments

What is the Social Security disability COLA for 2023?

The cost of living adjustment (COLA) is an annual increase in payment amounts to keep up with inflation. The 2023 COLA is 8.7%.

How much can you make on disability in 2023?

The maximum SSDI payment amount for 2023 is $3,627 per month and the maximum SSI paycheck for 2023 is $914 per month. Read more about maximum disability payment amounts.

How much is SSDI going up in 2023?

SSDI benefits payments are increasing 8.7% for 2023, meaning all SSDI recipients will automatically get a monthly check that’s worth 8.7% more than in 2022.

How much higher will SSI checks be in 2023?

Monthly SSI benefits are also increasing 8.7% from 2022 to 2023. This SSI increase is automatic. You don’t need to do anything to get it.

Are disability payment dates changing in 2023?

The first SSI payment for 2023 will be paid in December instead of January 2023, but the payment schedule will be very similar to last year. Learn more about disability payment schedules.

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Jackie Jakab, Disability Attorney

Jackie Jakab

Lead Attorney

Jackie Jakab is Atticus’s Legal Director. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, and has counseled thousands of people seeking disability benefits.
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