According to the Social Security Administration, slightly more than 7.9 million disabled workers receive an average of $1,280.98 a month in disability benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance program. This is in addition to the almost 4.2 million disabled or blind adults and children who receive a Social Security disability benefit through the Supplemental Security Income program. The average monthly benefit to blind or disabled adults receiving only SSI is $616.62 while the average for children is $687.28. The average amounts tell only a part of the story about disability benefits through the Social Security Administration.
The process of determining how much a beneficiary of SSI and SSDI should receive each month requires the application of complex federal regulations. A closer look may help you to understand how the SSA determines the maximum Social Security disability amount you may be entitled to receive through each program. Always keep in mind that a consultation with a Social Security disability lawyer at Scully Disability Law gives you access to a knowledgeable and skilled disability law professional who will calculate the benefits you are entitled to receive.
A look at the SSDI program
You may have heard that you must be “insured” to qualify for SSDI benefits. “Insured” may be misleading because it brings to mind an insurance policy of some sort. What it means is that you must have worked long enough before becoming disabled and contributed to the Social Security System through the payment of Social Security payroll taxes. For self-employed workers, “insured” means that you paid Social Security taxes on your self-employment income.
If you meet the work requirement and have a disability that meets the definition that federal regulations use to determine eligibility for SSDI, then you may qualify for monthly benefits. Depending on the onset date of your disability, you may not receive a monthly payment immediately after being notified that your application has been approved.
There is a five-month waiting period from the onset date until you receive your first SSDI monthly payment in the sixth full month of disability. However, it takes a while for Social Security to process your application, so you should have an SSD lawyer file the application as soon as you know that you meet the work and disability requirements. The five-month waiting period only applies to the time between the onset of the disability and the first payment, so filing early lets the waiting period run while the SSA processes the application.
Determining maximum SSDI benefits
The process used by the SSA to calculate your maximum SSD benefit amount through SSDI starts with your lifetime average earnings through working at jobs or self-employment covered by Social Security. Your disability lawyer can obtain a copy of your earnings record directly from the SSA.
The SSA continues the calculation process by computing your average monthly income over a period of years to arrive at average indexed monthly earnings or AIME. AIME reflects changes in overall wage levels during the years that you worked and earned an income that was subject to Social Security taxes.
Once it determines your AIME, the SSA uses it in a formula to compute your primary insurance amount or PIA. This PIA is what Social Security uses to set your monthly SSDI benefits payment. The severity of your disability does not factor into the computation of the maximum SSDI benefit that you are entitled to receive each month.
Bear in mind that the actual SSDI benefit you receive may be less than the maximum amount. The following may reduce the amount of your SSDI benefit:
- Workers’ compensation benefits.
- State-administered disability benefits.
- Early retirement.
If you take early retirement benefits through Social Security available at age 62, it may reduce your monthly SSDI benefit. Talk to an SSDI professional at Scully Disability Law if you took or are considering taking early retirement to learn how it may affect your SSDI benefits.
Calculating disability benefits payable through SSI
Unlike benefits payable through SSDI that are based on how much you earned during your lifetime, you do not need an earnings record to qualify for an SSD benefit through SSI. Instead, you must be disabled or blind and have limited financial resources and income to qualify for benefits.
The maximum benefit payable through SSI in 2021 is $794 to an individual and $1,191 to a couple. The maximum benefit is reduced by income that you receive from other sources, including work, investments, and gifts from friends or relatives, but some of the income that you receive may not count toward reducing the monthly benefit.
For example, SSI does not count all of the income that you receive during the month from working. It lets you exclude the first $65 and one-half of the balance.
Contact a disability lawyer for more information about benefits
A Social Security disability lawyer at Scully Disability Law ensures that you receive the maximum Social Security disability benefit allowed under federal regulations. Contact them today to schedule a free consultation and professional review of your claim.