Monday, December 08, 2008

SSDI, SSI and Medicare changes for 2009

The following article appears in the National Federation of the Blind's Braille Monitor. For those with Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome, or others who are legally blind, this information might be useful. Mr. McCarthy did a great job of summing it all up.

Social Security, SSI, and Medicare Facts for 2009
by James McCarthy

From the Editor: Jim McCarthy is a government programs specialist for the National Federation of the Blind. He concentrates on Social Security issues and provides an annual summary of Social Security changes:

Once again we toast the passing of the old year while awaiting the new one. Along with the inevitable best-of lists and retrospectives, this inevitable passing of time is accompanied by annual adjustments to the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Medicare programs. The changes include new tax rates, higher exempt earnings amounts, and SSDI and SSI cost of living increases, as well as alterations to deductible and coinsurance requirements under Medicare. In 2007 upper income Americans began facing larger Medicare Part B premiums than the majority of us. Below are the updated facts for 2009. Tax Rates
FICA and Self-Employment Tax Rates: The FICA tax rate for employees and their employers remains at 7.65 percent. This rate includes payments to the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Fund of 6.2 percent and an additional 1.45 percent payment to the Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund, from which payments under Medicare are made. Self‑employed persons continue to pay a Social Security tax of 15.3 percent, which includes 12.4 percent paid to the OASDI Trust Fund and 2.9 percent paid to the HI Trust Fund.

Ceiling on Earnings Subject to Tax: During 2008 the ceiling on taxable earnings for contributions to the OASDI Trust Fund was $102,000. For 2009 the maximum amount of taxable earnings rises to $106,800. All earnings are taxed for the HI Trust Fund.

Social Security Disability Insurance
Quarters of Coverage: Eligibility for Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (RSDI) benefits is partially based on the number of quarters of coverage earned by any individual during periods of work. Anyone may earn up to four quarters of coverage in a single year. During 2008 a Social Security quarter of coverage was credited for earnings of $1,050 in any calendar quarter. Anyone who earned $4,200 for 2008 (regardless of when the earnings occurred during the year) received four quarters of coverage. In 2009 a Social Security quarter of coverage will be credited for earnings of $1,090 during a calendar quarter. Four quarters will be earned with annual earnings of $4,360.

Trial Work Period Limit: The amount of earnings required to use a trial work month is subject to annual increases. In 2008 the amount was $670, and in 2009 it rises to $700. In cases of self-employment, a trial work month can also be used if a person works more than eighty hours, and this limitation on hours worked will not change unless expressly adjusted.

Exempt Earnings: The monthly earnings exemption referred to as Substantial Gainful Activity for blind people who receive disability insurance benefits was $1,570 of gross earned income during 2008. In 2009 earnings of $1,640 or more per month, before taxes, for a blind SSDI beneficiary will indicate substantial gainful activity once any unearned (or subsidy) income is subtracted and all deductions for impairment-related work expenses are applied.

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