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How the price of gas affects Social Security beneficiaries

Detroit is synonymous with the auto industry in America. Although the rebirth of manufacturing in the area has been friendly to workers, gas prices could be fueling frustration among consumers around the state. To spark that feeling, 2017 brings the enactment of a new gas tax to Michigan.

The price increase puts the cost of a gallon of gas in the state to among the highest in the country, according to WNEM-TV. The tax is projected to generate $450 million in revenue to fix the state's infrastructure, but, at a personal level, could have adverse effects on fixed-income earners and Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries.

Rising costs for everyday items like gas and groceries is referred to as "inflation." This economic indicator is taken into account by the Social Security Administration when they consider the yearly cost of living allowance increases. However, their national number may not reflect local spikes in prices like the gas tax in our state.

With the gas tax and the COLA increase beyond individual control, what can SSDI and SSI beneficiaries do to compensate for the rising costs of necessary items? COLA increased 0.3 percent this year for recipients, but is that enough to maintain your lifestyle on a fixed income?

Altough inflation has been relatively low in recent years, an increase in COLA also means higher health insurance premiums. A rise in gas tax can add to the nickels and dimes we lose to the increased cost of everyday items.

How can I increase my benefit payments?

Appeals are always available to beneficiaries or potential recipients. Even if you have been denied a claim in the past, you may be able to re-file for benefits if your circumstances have changed. Take the following steps to increase your chances when appealing a claim:

· Gather all supporting documents including medical reports and written statements. Your desire to increase payments starts with your effort, and accountability for materials is the first step in the process.

· Keep a journal of medical appointments and treatments since your last claim. Make a list of medicines you are currently taking and track the price you pay at the pharmacy counter.

· Talk to an attorney who specializes in social security disability claims. 70 percent of applicants are denied on their first application. Often, people are denied claims simply because their paperwork was not clearly presented or they were not cooperative with the administration. An attorney will act as both a liaison with the SSA and a coach for you personally to increase your chances of success through the claims process.

While a rise in gas prices is another boon to fixed-income earners, an appeal to increase your disability benefit payments can provide the fuel you need to live without worry.

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