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SOCIAL SECURITY

What is the monthly amount for Social Security disability?

The Social Security Administration runs two programs that provide financial support to those who are disabled, each with differing payment amounts.

Update:
Social Security disability payments vary depending on your earnings during the years from the time you turn 22 up to the year before you become disabled.
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The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees a number of programs designed to provide additional financial support for close to 70 million Americans. Just over 12 percent of those beneficiaries at the end of 2021 receive payments due to a disability which has rendered them unable to continue working.

While Supplemental Security Income is set by the federal government with variations at the state level, Social Security disability payments (SSDI) vary for each individual and are calculated in a similar fashion to retirement benefits. The SSA looks at your earnings during the years from the time you turn 22 up to the year before you become disabled. In order to get disability benefits you must meet the strict definition that is established by law, a diagnosis by your doctor does not suffice.

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Calculating SSDI Payments

Your SSDI monthly benefit will be based on your average covered earnings, money taken out of your wages for Social Security taxes. The agency will first calculate your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME) for the number of years worked between age 22 and the year before your disability. Not all of your work years will be used since you may not have had time to reach higher income years.

The AIME is then put into a formula to determine your primary insurance amount (PIA). The formula is weighted so that lower earners get proportionally higher benefits to their average annual income. The PIA is the base amount used to establish your disability or retirement benefit, or that for your survivors. The severity of your disability does not affect the amount that you receive each month.

How much are monthly SSDI payments?

The average SSDI benefit for a disabled-worker was about $1,358.30 a month according to the Social Security Administration at the end of 2021. The majority of beneficiaries receive modest payments, 85 percent got less than $2,000 a month as of December 2021.

The maximum benefit you could receive in 2022 is $3,345 per month. The SSA has an online benefits calculator that you can use to obtain an estimate of your monthly benefits.

How much are monthly SSI payments?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI), another benefit program serving people with disabilities run by the SSA however eligibility based on financial need not your work history. The benefit amounts are not based on a recipient’s historical earnings but set by the federal government. In 2022 the federal SSI benefit rate is $841 for an individual and $1,261 for a couple.

SSI is available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Northern Mariana Islands, but not Puerto Rico. Amounts can vary by state with all but four states and the Northern Mariana Islands offering additional funds to residents receiving SSI.

Other income that may reduce SSDI payments

Bear in mind that if you receive other government benefits, such as state disability benefits or workers' compensation your monthly SSDI benefit could be reduced. Private disability benefits such as payouts from personal insurance do not reduce your SSDI benefits.

Sources of income that could affect your SSDI payment:

  • Pension based on work not covered by Social Security, such as a government or foreign government pension
  • Public disability benefits
  • Worker’s compensation

When you reach full retirement age, currently 66 and 4 months for people born in 1956 and is gradually rising to 67, your disability benefit converts to a retirement benefit, usually at the same amount.

Social Security benefits are indexed, which means that the are modified each year to account for inflation using the Social Security's cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).

When are Social Security disability payments sent out?

Every month the SSA must undertake the enormous administrative challenge of distributing tens of millions of payments to Americans, knowing that many households are wholly reliant on their Social Security funds to make ends meet.

Social Security benefits are staggered across the month to ease the workload for the SSA, with distribution of the monthly payments based on the recipient’s birth date.

  • Birth date 1st – 10th - Second Wednesday of the month
  • Birth date 11th – 20th - Third Wednesday of the month
  • Birth date 21st – 31th - Fourth Wednesday of the month

Payments for SSI are scheduled for the first day of the month, except when that falls on a Saturday, Sunday or national holiday. In these instances, the SSI payments will go out at the very end of the previous month.

Legal definition of disabled

In order to be found disabled, your medical condition must prevent you from doing any substantial work. Additionally, the condition must have lasted, or be expected to last, a minimum of one year or will likely result in your death.

You will have to ask for an appointment with the SSA in order to file for disability benefits. The agency will send you a letter with a starter kit, which you can also consult online through the “my Social Security” online portal. The appointment takes about one hour, but you can cut that time in half by starting the process online, completing both the application for benefits and the disability report at the agency’s dedicated disability application webpage. If that is not an option, you can fill out the Medical and Job Worksheet to have ready when you have your appointment.

Social Security offices have been closed since the start of the covid-19 pandemic except in limited circumstances when you can schedule an in-person appointment. The SSA recently announced that starting in early April 2022 more in-person appointments and in-person services without one will be made available. This two-year closure has seen claims for disability benefits drop, closing offices can have a significant impact on people applying who would qualify.

As part of the starter kit, you will be provided with a checklist of information you will need to have on hand for your appointment. Whether in person or by telephone, the representative giving the interview may ask for any of required checklist items.

How long does it take the SSA to process a disability claim?

According to the agency it may take anywhere between three and five months for the SSA to send you a decision. The length of time depends on how long it takes to gather the necessary information to process your claim. Your application is given to the state agency whose medical and vocational experts make the disability decision.

You may be asked to complete further forms, or they may request that you have an examination or medical test which you will not have to pay for. The SSA advises not to miss any appointments for medical tests or examinations.

Once your SSDI application is approved you cannot begin collecting benefits until the sixth full month of your disability is determined to have begun due to a mandatory five-month waiting period.

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