If you are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI, or sometimes just SSD) benefits, the amount you receive each month will be based on your average lifetime earnings before your disability began. It is not based on how severe your disability is or how much income you have. However, if you are receiving disability payments from other sources, as discussed below, your payment may be reduced.
Calculating Your Social Security Disability Payment
The amount of money you will receive from Social Security on a monthly basis is unique for every individual. This is due to the fact that the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a complex weighted formula in order to calculate benefits for each person.
Social Security bases your retirement and disability benefits on the amount of income on which you've paid Social Security taxes—called "covered earnings." Your average covered earnings over a period of years is known as your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME). A formula is applied to your AIME to calculate your primary insurance amount (PIA)—the base figure the SSA uses in setting your benefit amount. The formula consists of fixed percentages of different amounts of income (called "bend points," which are adjusted each year). For example, in 2011, 90% of the first $749 of your AIME was added to your PIA, plus 32% of your AIME from $749 to $4,517, plus 15% of your AIME over $4,517. The amounts are added up to come up with your PIA.
Most SSDI recipients receive between $300 and $2,200. The average SSDI payment in 2013 is $1,132. The maximum disability benefit in 2013 is $2,533.
To see your entire covered earnings history, you can check your annual Social Security Statement. While the Social Security Administration has stopped mailing out annual Social Security Statements to many people, you can check your statement online at www.ssa.gov/mystatement/. (If you want to enter salary information yourself rather than rely on your earnings record and Social Security's estimate of your future earnings, you can use the SSA's online benefits calculator at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/benefitcalculators.htm.) You can also call your local Social Security office and a field representative will be able to help you estimate what your benefits would be.
Reducing Your Payment by Other Disability Payments
If you receive disability benefits from private long-term disability insurance benefits, these benefits will not affect your SSDI benefits. However, if you receive government-regulated disability benefits, such as workers' comp benefits or temporary state disability benefits, they can affect your SSDI benefits in the following way. You cannot receive more than 80% of the average amount you earned before you became disabled in SSDI and other disability benefits. If you do, your SSDI benefit will be reduced.
Social Security Backpay
How much you will receive in backpay is dependent on your SSDI monthly amount. How manys months of back payments you get will be determined by your application date and your established date of onset (when your disability started). If you previously applied for disability benefits, you may be able to get backpay going back to the original application date. Learn more about how SSDI backpay is calculated.
Learn all about the benefits you may be eligible for in our section on Social Security Disability Benefits.