SSDI: How Much is My Claim Worth?

The $64,000 question we disability attorneys always hear when representing Social Security Disability (SSD) claimants is, “how much money will I receive in SSDI?” The answer is never straightforward, and it always begins with the words, “well, it depends.”  It is difficult to determine the amount a claimant will eventually receive in SSDI benefits prior to the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) decision.

One factor in predicting the amount of benefits a claimant will receive is the amount of the claimant’s “covered earnings” prior to being disabled. The term “covered earnings” refers to the amount of income you made, upon which you paid social security taxes.

For 2015, the maximum amount of SSDI any one person may receive in a month is $2,663 per month. The average payment is about $1,165 per month. If you receive disability payments from other sources such as workers’ compensation or insurance, your SSDI benefits may be reduced.

How the SSA Calculates Benefits

SSDI benefits are determined by a calculation which uses your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME) and primary insurance amount (PIA). Officials with the Social Security office will calculate your AIME by reviewing your lifetime earnings. They will adjust the average monthly amount by taking into account the increase in general wages that occurred during those years of employment. Then, officials take the years with your highest earning amounts, add them together, and divide by the total months. So two years at $40,000 per year would be $80,000 divided by 24 would equal $3,333.33 AIME.

The PIA is actually the base amount of your Social Security Insurance benefits. The administration determines three separate fixed percentages of your AIME to calculate your ultimate PIA. The resulting figures in dollars are called “bend points.” If you became eligible for SSDI in 2013, your PIA would be determined by adding:

  • 90% of the first $791 of your AIME
  • 32% of the AIME above $791 up through $4,768
  • 15% of the AIME over $4,768

One method by which you may be able to find out what your SSDI monthly payment would be to check the SSA website and calculate benefits, but even that can be difficult for many people, particularly when disabled.

Are Payments Retroactive?

Yes, you can receive back pay of disability benefits but the calculation used to determine that amount can be confusing. Simply put, the amount will depend upon when you were deemed to be disabled by the SSA, known as your established onset date (EOD), and when you filed your claim for benefits. You can receive up to 12 months of retroactive benefits prior to your filing date.

What Happens When a Claim is Finally Approved

When your claim is medically approved, you might receive a call from the SSA confirming the non-medical aspects of your claim. Next you will receive a letter advising of your approval, your monthly benefit amount, your back benefit amount (if any), and the effective date. An informational pamphlet describing the process and distributed by the SSA is available to view.

What You Need to Know When You Receive SSDI

When you receive SSDI, you should understand that there are other benefits for which you may qualify. Your children may qualify for benefits based upon your disability. Your medical condition will be reviewed once every three years as a matter of course; if your condition improves, a program called Ticket to Work can help you get back to work if possible. Under certain scenarios you could work for a period of time while collecting your SSDI benefits and not risk being terminated from the SSDI program. You can read an informational brochure issued by the agency for information.

SSDI Lawyers Who Care

At Marks & Harrison, we understand how important disability benefits are for you. We always seek to collect the maximum amount of benefits for our clients, as quickly as possible, based upon the facts. Contact our firm today to set up a free consultation with a social security disablity lawyer and see how we can help you resolve any issues associated with a SSDI claim as soon as possible.