If you're eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, the amount you receive each month will be based on your average lifetime earnings before your disability began. Unlike veterans compensation, workers' comp, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, SSDI isn't based on how severe your disability is or how much income you have—everything depends on those lifetime earnings.
Most SSDI recipients receive between $700 and $1,400 per month. But if you're receiving disability payments from other sources, your payment may be reduced. (More on reduced payments below.)
In 2022, the average SSDI payment for an individual is $1,358, but almost two-thirds of SSDI recipients receive less than that. And only 10% of SSDI recipients receive $2,000 per month or more.
The 2022 average monthly benefit for an SSDI recipient who has a spouse and children is $2,383. (Minor children and spouses who are taking care of children or are retirement age can also get benefits.)
Because benefit amounts depend on lifetime earnings, there's a large range in how much Social Security pays. For instance, let's look at age 55, the most common age disabilities start. For 55-year-olds who have worked their entire lives, Social Security typically pays $1,000 to $2,700. The benefits pay chart here shows you the ranges based on income.
Within those ranges, the amount you'll receive will depend on the following:
The exact amount of money people get for SSDI each month is unique for every individual. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a complex weighted formula to calculate benefits for each person, up to 2022's maximum benefit of $3,345.
Doing the math yourself is difficult, but here's how the formula works. (Fortunately, there are easier ways to find out how much in Social Security disability you'll get, which we cover in the next section.)
AIME. 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 the past 35 years is known as your "average indexed monthly earnings" (AIME).
Bend points. The SSDI formula uses fixed percentages of different amounts of income. These percentages, called "bend points," are adjusted each year. In 2022, here are the bend points and how they come together:
PIA. Adding those three figures together gives the SSA your primary insurance amount (PIA). Your PIA is the base figure the SSA uses in setting your benefit amount.
Your Social Security Statement, which the SSA recently redesigned, is the best place to find your SSDI benefit amount. You can find your statement online at www.ssa.gov/myaccount. (Note that Social Security only sends out printed statements to people over 60 who aren't receiving benefits and don't have an online account at Social Security's website.)
If you don't receive benefits yet, your Social Security Statement will show you what your SSDI payment will be if you get approved for disability benefits this year. It also shows what your retirement benefit would be at age 62, 67, and 70. You can also check your entire covered earnings history on your Social Security Statement.
The SSA still has an online benefits calculator that you can use to get an estimate of your monthly benefits, but if you sign up for an account to see your new Social Security Statement, you won't need it. 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.
Any disability benefits you receive from a private long-term disability insurance policy won't affect your SSDI benefits. Nor will SSI or VA benefits impact your SSDI amount. But government-regulated disability benefits, such as workers' comp or temporary state disability benefits, can affect your SSDI benefits. Here's how that works: If the amount in SSDI plus the amount from government-regulated disability benefits is more than 80% of the amount you earned before you became disabled, the SSDI or other benefits will be reduced.
The following types of government benefits could lower your SSDI payment:
Most years, your monthly SSDI payment will go up, thanks to Social Security's annual cost of living adjustment (COLA). You can find the annual COLA here.
Once you're eligible for Medicare benefits (two years after you become entitled to SSDI benefits), the cost of Medicare Part B will be taken directly out of your Social Security check. Most people will pay a premium of $158.50 for Part B in 2022, but the amount can be quite a bit higher for those with high income. If you have low income, on the other hand, a Medicare Savings Program can pay your Part B premium.
How much you'll receive in Social Security disability backpay depends on your SSDI monthly amount. And how many months of back payments you get is determined by your application date and your established date of onset (when your disability started). If you previously applied for disability benefits but didn't get them that time, your backpay might go back even further—to the original application date. Learn more about how SSDI backpay is calculated.
Updated November 8, 2021