Monthly Income on SSDI
Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) can be a lifeline for workers who are no longer able to earn a living due to disability. If you’re in the process of applying for or appealing denial of SSDI benefits, you’re probably wondering how much you can expect to receive if and when your application is approved.
The answer comes in two parts: how much monthly income you will receive from SSDI, and how much money the Social Security Administration (SSA) will owe you by the time your benefits are approved. Back benefits or retroactive benefits depend in part on your monthly benefit, so we’ll start there.
Calculating Monthly Social Security Disability Benefits
The amount of your monthly Social Security disability benefit will be equal to what you would receive at full retirement age. But, that amount depends on your work history. More specifically, your monthly benefit is based on your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME) for your 35 highest-earning years. “Indexed” means the earnings have had a multiplier applied to translate them into equivalent earnings in the present year. For example, someone who earned $15,000 in 1985 would be credited with indexed earnings of $54,012. Without this adjustment, people with a long work history would be penalized by lower-dollar early earnings.
Note that your full monthly income isn’t necessarily included in this calculation–only wages up to the maximum taxable income limit for Social Security are counted.
Once SSA has determined your AIME, a staged formula is applied. In 2023, your monthly benefit amount will be:
- 90% of AIME up to $1,115, plus
- 32% of AIME over $1,115 but not more than $6,721, plus
- 15% of AIME over $6,721
For example, if your AIME is $4,000/month, your benefit amount would be:
$1,115 x .90 = 1003.50, plus
$4,000 – $1,115 = $2,885 x .32 = $923.20
For a total of $1,926.70
Social Security benefits, including SSDI, are rounded down to the nearest dollar. So, your monthly benefit in 2023 would be $1,926. Benefits are subject to an annual cost of living adjustment.
There’s a lot of math involved. Fortunately, the SSA provides online benefits calculators to give you an idea of what you can expect in monthly benefits.
Lump Sum SSDI Payments
Often, it takes several months to two years or more to get approved for Social Security disability benefits. But, that doesn’t mean you’re going to miss out on all those benefits. In fact, in some circumstances, you may qualify for benefits dating back to before you applied for SSDI.
There are two different types of payments that you may receive in a lump sum shortly after your disability benefits are approved: back pay and retroactive pay. Back pay is the benefits you would have been eligible for from the time you applied. Retroactive benefits are benefits you may have been entitled to for up to a year before you filed your application.
There are two important things to know about retroactive pay and back benefits:
- Establishing the onset date of your disability matters, even if there was a gap between onset and application, and
- It’s important to see through the appeals process instead of reapplying–if you start over, you won’t be eligible for benefits for any time period earlier than the date of your denial.
As you can see, there’s much to think about when applying for SSDI benefits or appealing a denial. And, innocent mistakes can cost you.
At Disability Help Group, we will work with you and provide guidance and expectations to help you through this challenging time. To learn more about how Disability Help Group can help you assemble the strongest application possible, call (800) 800-3332 or fill out the contact form on this site.