If you are 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. It is not based on how severe your disability is or how much income you have. Most SSDI recipients receive between $800 and $1,800 per month (the average for 2021 is $1,277). However, if you are receiving disability payments from other sources, as discussed below, your payment may be reduced.
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, up to the maximum benefit of $3,148 in 2021.
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), which is 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 2021, 90% of the first $996 of your AIME is added to your PIA, plus 32% of your AIME from $996 to $6,002, plus 15% of your AIME over $6,002. These amounts are added up to come up with your PIA.
To see your entire covered earnings history, you can check your annual Social Security Statement. You can check your statement online at https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount. 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 https://www.ssa.gov/planners/calculators.) 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. (Note that Social Security only sends out printed statements every year to those over 60 who aren't receiving benefits and who don't have an online account at Social Security's website.)
If you receive disability benefits from private a long-term disability insurance policy, 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 or other benefits will be reduced. However, SSI and VA benefits will not reduce your SSDI benefit.
How much you will receive in backpay is dependent on your SSDI monthly amount. How many 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.
Updated February 8, 2021