If you have become disabled and expect to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, your next thought is likely to be how much money will you receive. Knowing your probable SSDI payment amounts is important for planning purposes and for peace of mind.
At Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons, our experienced and compassionate Oklahoma City disability attorneys can assist you in seeking disability benefits, including SSDI payments. Below we discuss how SSDI payments are calculated. If you need assistance with obtaining disability benefits, please do not hesitate to contact us in Oklahoma City.
How Are SSDI Payments Calculated?
Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are monthly payments based on what you have earned prior to becoming disabled. Like Social Security retirement benefits, SSDI is funded by FICA taxes withheld from paychecks. How much you have paid in over the years is the primary factor in determining your benefit. The maximum SSDI payment available matches the maximum Social Security retirement benefit, which for 2019 is $2,861 per month for those who apply at full retirement age (i.e., 66 years old).
Many people think that SSDI benefits are based on the severity of the recipient’s disability. This is not true. However, you must have a medical condition that meets Social Security’s definition of disability to qualify for benefits.
A disability for the purposes of Social Security benefits is a disease or injury that prevents a person from working for a living for at least 12 months or that is expected to result in the individual’s death.
Once you qualify, your monthly benefit is based on your average covered earnings over a period of years, known as your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME). A formula is then applied to your AIME to calculate your primary insurance amount (PIA), which the Social Security Administration uses to set your benefit.
The AIME is based on up to 35 years of a worker’s indexed earnings. Total earnings are indexed to reflect changes in general wages during your years of employment. This is to ensure your benefits reflect the general rise in the standard of living over the course of your lifetime.
After up to 35 years of earnings are indexed, the Social Security Administration chooses the years with the highest indexed earnings, adds up the earnings and divides the total by the number of months in those years. The resulting figure is rounded down to the next lower dollar amount and is your AIME.
To determine the primary insurance amount, the Social Security Administration chooses percentages of three earnings amounts, known as “bend points,” from your AIME and adds them together. The percentages are set by law as 90%, 32% and 15%, but the bend points are adjusted every year.
For 2019, the primary insurance amount bend points are the first $926, the amount from $926.01 to $5,583, and the amount over $5,583. Your amount would be the sum of:
- 90% of the first $926 of your AIME, plus
- 32% of your AIME over $926 up to $5,583, plus
- 15% of your AIME over $5,583.
Theoretically, the primary insurance amount is your benefit, but if you are receiving any other public disability benefits, they may be used to reduce your SSDI benefit. Public disability benefits include workers’ compensation, military disability benefits, and state or local government retirement benefits that are based on disability.
If your primary insurance amount and other public disability benefits combined are more than 80% of the average amount you earned before you became disabled, the excess amount is deducted from your SSDI benefits. This does not apply to VA benefits, private pension or private insurance benefits or Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI), another Social Security program for the disabled.
As you can tell from the description above, determining your disability benefits involves a complicated formula. Individuals who are dealing with a new disability and trying to obtain benefits in Oklahoma should consult a knowledgeable SSDI lawyer at Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons. There are ways to structure a workers’ compensation settlement, for example, that can mitigate its effect on your SSDI benefit. There may also be exemptions that apply to your case and which may increase your benefit.
What Are the Average SSDI Payments?
The Social Security Administration offers an online benefits calculator that allows you to estimate your Social Security retirement and disability benefits and survivor benefits for family members. You can also get a statement of your covered earnings and projected retirement benefit by setting up an account with the SSA online.
The SSA publishes statistics about its programs, such as what it pays out to recipients. For example, the average monthly Social Security payments for July 2019 were:
SSDI benefits –
- Overall average: $1,103.43
- Disabled workers: $1,236.12
- Spouses of disabled workers: $353.87
- Children of disabled workers: $381.38
SSI benefits –
- All beneficiaries: $5,402
- Disabled younger than 65: $4,402
- Disabled older than 65: $1,000
Retirement benefits –
- Overall average: $1,425.46
- Retired workers: $1,472.16
- Spouses of retired workers: $768.74
- Children of retired workers: $698.57
Of course, Social Security benefits of all kinds change yearly with cost of living adjustments (COLAs). The 2019 COLA was 2.8%, for example.
A disability benefits recipient can also perform some paying work and keep collecting benefits. The amount of money you may earn is also adjusted year-to-year, with the 2019 maximum for SSDI recipients being $1,220 per month or $2,040 if you are legally blind. During your Trial Work Period, you may earn up to $880 per month without the month counting as a month of services.
Call an Oklahoma SSDI Attorney Today
If you have become disabled and can no longer work for a living, you deserve to receive the maximum benefits available to you by law. The highly respected Oklahoma City disability lawyers at Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons have spent decades successfully securing SSDI and SSI benefits from the Social Security Administration for clients like you.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation about the Social Security disability benefits you are entitled to seek under federal law.