SSA Announces 2017 COLA Increase of 0.3 Percent
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced that the monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will increase 0.3 percent in 2017. The 0.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 60 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2017. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on Dec. 30, 2016.
Annual or interim recertifications effective January, February, March, or April 2017 should be processed according to HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 9-6 (B)(1)(e). Based on this section, owners must use one of the following methods for determining the tenant’s income for annual or interim recertifications effective Jan. 1, 2017–April 1, 2017:
- Use the benefit information reported in EIV that doesn’t include the COLA;
- Use the 2017 SSA benefit, award letter, or Proof of Income Letter provided by the tenant that includes the COLA adjustment if the date of the letter is within 120 days from the date of receipt by the owner;
- Determine the tenant’s income by applying the COLA increase percentage to the current verified benefit amount and document in the tenant file how the tenant’s income was determined; or
- Request third-party verification directly from SSA when the income in EIV doesn’t agree with the income the tenant reports he or she is receiving.
All recertifications effective after April 1 must reflect the SSA benefit that includes the COLA.
It’s important to note that with publication of the Streamlining Final Rule, which became effective April 7, 2016, owners are permitted to use a streamlined income verification measure specifically, and only for, these fixed-income sources such as Social Security and Supplemental Security Income. For these fixed-income sources, owners must obtain third-party verification of the income amounts every three years. In the interim, streamlined income determination can be performed by applying, for each fixed-income source, the verified COLA to the previously verified adjusted-income amount.